Empowering Parents To Teach- Ninja math

Calling All Ninjas! Nine Ninja Books and Fun Math (and Motor) Activity

Do you have a child that loves ninjas or martial arts?  This is the place for you. I have nine awesome books to delight your little one and a fun way to incorporate math into martial arts. Get ready to turn your child into a math ninja!


*Note: This post contains affiliate links.


First, get your little ninja inspired by reading one of these stories:

Ninja! by Arree Chung

Ninja Bunny by Jennifer Gray Olson


Ninja Cowboy Bear Presents the Way of the Ninja by David Bruins


Dojo Daycare by Chris Tougas

Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta


Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted to be Noticed by J.C. Philipps


Ninja Boy Goes to School by N.D. Wilson


Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida

My Grandma’s A Ninja by Todd Tarpley


Since ninjas must be agile, strong, and mentally sharp they must train their bodies and minds. This activity will have your child feeling like a ninja in training.



There are two options for materials. You can easily use stuff around your home or you can use martial arts gear.  To illustrate the activity, I used store bought gear. We had the items at home already!


Option 1- Store bought gear:

Option 2- Things around your home:

  • Small square pillows to punch
  • Bare hands
  • Post-it notes (for the older kid version of this activity)


This activity is so simple! Give your child a math fact that he or she can do in his or her head. It may be simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc.; It all depends on your child’s math level. When your child provides the answer he or she must punch the bags in an alternating fashion the same number of times as their answer. If the answer was seven, your child would punch the bags seven times.


Another option for older kids who may get very large answers, is to assign one bag as the tens and one bag as the ones. You can even label the bags. So, if your child gets an answer of 95, s/he would punch the “tens” bag nine times and the “ones” bag five times. For children learning base ten concepts, this option may be useful.


Empowering Parents To Teach- Ninja math


You can make this activity even simpler for toddlers by just giving your child a number and punching the bags in that same quantity. If your child tries to punch too fast and thus punches too many times, slow your child down and show him or her how to accurately punch while saying each number (1, 2, 3…). It’s about having one punch for each number stated. Your child will be practicing one to one correspondence by doing this.


Keep giving your ninja math facts until you sense they are losing interest or breath. :)


I Can Read 100 Words

I Can Read 100 Words (with free printable chart and word cards)

I recently came across this article from the Guardian stating that there are 100 crucial words for kids to know when they are learning to read. Learning to read requires a knowledge of phonics not just sight word recognition, but this article focused on the optimal number of words that kids should learn to read by sight. The author includes a list of these 100 words, although I only counted 99 words! I included one more word in this activity to make it an even 100.


Whether you agree with the research or not, many of the words listed here also appear on lists that teachers already employ when teaching reading to students. Common lists used in classrooms include the Fry’s list or Dolch list. So the list in the article can be helpful as it aligns with these already accepted lists. If a child can read these 100 words, there are many easy reader books that a child can read. Once children begin reading books, they open the doorway to learning even more words. In all, I believe learning these 100 words are beneficial for beginning readers. With that in mind, I created a chart to track the words they have learned and word cards to help with daily practice.


Important note: This activity is for kids who are beginning to recognize words and are learning to read in a comprehensive reading program. It is not meant to be the primary way that your child learns how to read.  It is meant to bolster your child’s sight word recognition.  Suggested ages for this activity is kindergarten or above. Of course, some kids may be able to do this at a younger age, but it’s not intended for kids under five unless your child is showing signs of being an early reader. You know your child best!



  • 100 Word Chart (feel free to decorate it)
  • Word cards- print on cardstock if available
  • Click here to print I Can Read 100 Words chart and word cards
  • Construction paper if you want to create pockets to store the word cards
  • Pencil or pen for tally marks



This activity is very straight forward. It’s just good old fashion practice. Show your child the chart. Let your child know that if s/he can read 100 words than s/he can become a stronger reader. Every day your child will practice reading these words until he or she meets the goal of reading 100 words easily by sight. Not only are you helping your child with reading, you are showing your child how to set goals and work to achieve them. Here are the steps:


I Can Read 100 Words

Display the chart




I Can Read 100 Words

Cut out the words


1. Depending on your child’s age or ability choose a reasonable amount of words to practice every day.  My five year old and I practice about twenty a day.  I chose this amount because he already knows most of the words on the list, therefore practice goes quickly.  If your child does not know a lot of the words, choose a smaller amount so your child is not overwhelmed.


2. If you choose 10 words to start, show your child one word at a time. Have your child read the word out loud. If s/he gets it right, make a tally mark on the back of the card. If it was incorrect, do not. This is for you to keep track of how many times your child identifies the word.


I Can Read 100 Words


I Can Read 100 Words



3. Take the cards that your child got wrong and tell your child what the word is. Have your child repeat the word a couple of times while looking at it. When I work with my son I call these the “learning words”.  I get excited and say, “Yay, we have a word we can practice!” For additional practice, I share some suggestions of how to reinforce these words at the end of this article.


4. The next day you can test the same words or a mixture of previously used words and new ones (until all words are seen). This will depend on your child. If s/he got a lot right, you may want to add a couple of new ones. Once again, add a tally mark to the back of the card if your child got the word right.


5. Once your child has identified a word five separate times (as noted by the tally marks) write the word on the 100 chart. You’ll need to write small! It’s important that your child can recognize the words multiple times so that you know s/he knows that word and isn’t just guessing. This is another reason why changing the order of word presentation is important. And, you don’t have to show the same words every time. The more your word order or word presentation becomes the same, the less your child has to work to identify the word. You can even throw words that your child already mastered in the mix. You don’t want to make things too predictable. The whole point of this exercise is to make sure that your child can identify these words in a book within varied contexts, not just on a word card.


I Can Read 100 Words


6. Keep the process going every day of showing your child ten words (or the quantity you decided) until s/he has mastered them all. This may take some time. Acting as a teacher or coach, you can remind your child that they can accomplish this, it just takes time and effort. As a parent you know your child best, if this activity is really too hard for him or her then it may be best to wait and try again later. Some children love this kind of activity and some don’t, this isn’t for every child. Follow your instinct on if this is a reasonable goal for your child.


7. You do not need to incentivize this activity. Meaning, you do not have to offer a reward when your child learns all 100 words. Part of this activity is learning the value of reaching a goal. Hopefully, your child will feel intrinsically rewarded by his or her achievement. If you do feel the need to reward your child’s work, I strongly suggest making a natural reward such as letting your child choose a book at a book store. His or her “reward” is the ability to read that book! Your child is learning that reading can be rewarding in itself :)


Ways to practice sight words:

1. Read easy books.

Empowering Parents to Teach- 15 Really Easy To Read Books See our list of really easy to read books (click here). Read them to your child or have your child read them to you. Draw attention to any of the sight words your child is learning.




2. Color or decorate the word.

DIYGcolor Make your own printables (click here to see how). For example, is your child practicing the word, “away”? Create a printable with the word, “away”. Your child can color it in, put stickers on it, use do a dot paint, or any artsy thing s/he can imagine.




3. Play sight word hide and seek.

IMG_0767 Play this easy game (click here) using the words included in this post.





4. Make sentences.

Empowering Parents to Teach- Sentence Making Find sentences containing words that your child needs to practice and try this activity (click here to see the full activity).





5. Display the words

Empowering Parents to Teach- Sight Word TreeSo that your child can see the words on a daily basis, make a word display. This can be simple or you get creative. Our sight word tree is one example of a word display (click here to see). Think of fun ways for your child to interact with the word display. For example, since we used a tree I can make leaves fall from the tree and have my child collect the leaves and state the words on the leaves as he does it.



6. Sight Word Memory

Print two copies of the words and make a sight word memory game using the words that your child is working on!


7. Meet the Sight Words books

My son liked reading these books.  They helped build his confidence and sight word recognition. If you click on the picture, you can purchase them on Amazon. This is an affiliate link, which means I make a very small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you! Thank you for your support :)

Empowering Parents to Teach- The Three Books That Taught My Kids to Read

The Three Books That Taught My Kids To Read

There are three books that I have to credit with helping my children learn to read.  They are all part of the Beginner Books Series from Random House. While we have an enormous amount of books in our house, these three stick out to me. Through simple language, rhyming, repetition, and fun illustrations, my children read these over and over again. Today, I’d love to share these with you. If you are looking to add books to your home library I suggest you add these! Usually, I would suggest getting books form the library, but these I recommend buying to have at home so your child can read them many times. You can purchase them from the links* in this post or at your local book store.


Hop on Pop by Dr. Suess

(click on picture to purchase on Amazon)


How this book helps: This book relies heavily on rhyming.  Hearing rhymes helps children detect patterns in our language.  When the child starts reading, seeing these patterns in print helps the child relate the sound patterns to how they look in writing.  The rhyming words are first isolated so it’s very easy to draw attention to the word endings and how they look the same. Afterwards, children see the word used in a very short rhyming sentence.  It gives the child immediate practice recognizing the word in context.

This book  was one of the first books my oldest read out loud when he was little.


Put Me In The Zoo by Robert Lopshire


(click on the purchase to purchase on Amazon)

How this book helps: The rhyming in this books helps the child anticipate what word may come next.  It also uses a lot of the same words through out the story. This gives the child practice reading the words over and over again, helping to commit the words to memory.

This book was one of the first books that my youngest liked to read out loud.


Go, Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman


(click on the picture to purchase on Amazon)


How this book helped: This book does not rhyme, but it does uses a lot of the same words over and over again.  This helps the child rely more on the context of the story than the rhyming pattern. The pictures help the child figure out tricky words; for example, if the child has trouble reading the word “three”, s/he can count the number of dogs in the picture.


Before my kids attempted to read these books independently, I read them out loud to the boys many times. This gave them an understanding of the story and let them hear the words used.  What I like about these books is that they are long, so the child will not likely memorize the whole entire story. While memory of the story is involved, they still have to use their reading skills.


If you are still not sure if your child is reciting a story from memory or really reading try two things. One, have the child point to the words as s/he reads. Are the words matching? That’s a good sign. Is your child’s finger running over the words too quickly or slowly? Then, s/he may be reciting from memory.  Two, after your child reads a sentence ask him or her to point to a word. For example, after reading the sentence A green dog on a yellow tree ask your child, “Where is the word yellow?” Can s/he find the word? That’s another good sign that s/he is using a reading skill!


Enjoy reading together :)

Empowering Parents to Teach- Three Books


For more easy to read books, check out this list: 15 Really Easy To Read Books for the Beginning Reader


Empowering Parents to Teach- 15 Really Easy To Read Books

15 Really Easy To Read Books For The Beginning Reader

It’s exciting when your little one begins recognizing words and wants to learn how to read! You want to encourage his or her new found skill, but don’t want your child to get discouraged reading books with too many words that s/he doesn’t know. Feeling like a good reader is so important! I compiled a list of books that are super easy to read. Hopefully, by reading these, your child will gain confidence and feel like a successful reader.


First, some tips that worked for my little ones:

1. Read the book to your child first.  This will expose your child to the words contained in the book.  Remember, reading the book is not a quiz or test to see what words s/he know. You want it to be a successful, enjoyable experience.


2. When you read, point to the words. When your child reads to you, encourage him or her to point to the words as s/he reads. If your child doesn’t want to point to the words, you can be the pointer.  Remember, there’s no pressure, follow your child’s lead.


3. If your child is stuck on a word, you can have him or her sound out the word or simply tell them the word. My general rule for this reading stage is that if the word is short and can be sounded out letter by letter, such as “big”, I have my child sound it out. If it’s a tricky word that requires advanced phonics or doesn’t follow any phonetic rule, I will simply tell him the word. The main point is to keep the continuity of the story. I tend to tell more words than we sound out at this early stage to keep the flow of the story and foster comprehension.


4. Most of the words in the book should be known by your child already.  Of course, you will want some new words so that your child is stretching his or her reading ability. The new words are not as intimidating when everything else is easy for them. To me, the earliest reading stage is about confidence building.



I encourage you to find these books at your local library. We found many of these at our library. If you want to purchase a book from Amazon, I have included a link.  If you click on any of the pictures it will take you to an Amazon link. Disclosure: This is an affiliate link, which means I make a small percentage from the sale at no extra cost to you. I hope you find this list helpful!


Here they are:

Scat, Cat! by Alyssa Satin Capucilli


The Fly Flew In by David Catrow


I Have A Garden by Bob Barner


Down On The Farm by Rita Lascaro


Oh,Cats! by Nola Buck


I Can Help by David Hyde Costello


The Ear Book by Al Perkins


What I See by Holly Keller


Bears On Wheels by Stan and Jan Berenstein


Pig Has A Plan by Ethan Long


Dinosaurs Do, Dinosaurs Don’t by Steve Bjorkman


Dog’s New Coat by Margaret Nash


Dot and Bob by David McPhail


The easiest books of all:

Hug by Jez Alborough

Tall by Jez Alborough


I hope you and child enjoy reading together!  Have fun :)







Empowering Parents To Teach- Learning To Read Is A Ball

Book Review: Learning To Read Is A Ball by Kimberly Scanlon


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for purposes of review. I was not financially compensated in any way. All the opinions expressed are my own.


Kimberly Scanlon authored a new book called Learning to Read is a Ball designed to help parents of pre-readers develop their young ones’ literacy skills. With an extensive parent guide in the back, this book is a good tool for the parent or caregiver that wants to teach his or her child pre-reading skills. I was invited to review this book and share my thoughts with you.


Scanlon’s book is like a two for one. It’s a picture book and it’s a how-to guide for parents. In the opening, she asks parents to refer to the parent guide in the back of the book. By reading this guide, parents learn many strategies to use while reading the story. Using the story in the front of the book as a reference, Scanlon shows the reader how the strategies can be implemented.


With this understanding, the parent can begin reading the story to the child. The story has simple language, rhyme, salient print, and meaningful pictures that are necessary for pre-readers to comprehend the story and begin to recognize print. Not only that, this story is interactive. Scanlon intentionally leaves places for the child to write on the pages which helps the child make the story his or her own. Both the parent and child learn from this book. The parent learns how to further his or her child’s literacy development with strategies that have been proven to be helpful and the child practices early literacy skills.


While this book is intended for pre-readers, I read this book with my beginning reader and he enjoyed the story. As we read, he asked good questions and interacted with the pictures. I used the strategy that Scanlon recommends called, “Complete the rhyming word”. As I read, I left off the second rhyming word for my child to anticipate and say on his own. These words are underlined in the story helping both the parent who is new to this strategy and the child.


My goal at Empowering Parents to Teach is to equip parents with the tools they need to teach their kids. Scanlon’s book is aligned to this goal. It’s not just another picture book, it is a teaching guide for parents who want to help promote their child’s early literacy. With the skills learned in this book, you can promote your child’s literacy anywhere or with any story.


Visit http://www.scanlonspeech.com/ for more tips to help your child’s speech and language development.


*Note: When this post was originally published (May 1, 2015), there was a giveaway. The giveaway is now closed and the winner received her copy of the book.


To purchase this book or Kimberly Scanlon’s first book, click on the links below or order them at your nearest Barnes and Noble:

*These are Amazon affiliate links.