Contest! Win a Ji Ga Zo puzzle

Ji Ga Zo puzzleWhat is the best literacy activity you’ve done with your kids to help get them reading?
The three top answers will be shared here and will win a Ji Ga Zo puzzle, courtesy of Hasbro and Getting Kids Reading.

The contest ends on Saturday, April 2 so get your answer(s) in by then.
We’ll be looking for simple, fun literacy-boosting activities (crafts, games, Internet sites, tips etc.) that kids will really enjoy and that will get them reading.
Winners will be notified here, and the puzzles will be shipped directly from Hasbro.

If you don’t know about Ji Ga Zo, it’s my latest obsession. (And no, Hasbro is not paying me to say any of this – although they did give me one free to try out. But I did subsequently buy one myself.)

Anyway, click here for my Ji Ga Zo post that will tell you more about it.
There’s a commercial that explains it pretty well, here.

I just couldn’t pick three winners. I couldn’t, I couldn’t!
Fortunately, Hasbro has generously offered (OK, after a bit of askin’ on my part – well, I couldn’t pick three! I couldn’t!) to give all of the people who entered our contest a free Ji Ga Zo reusable puzzle. The name may be challenging but the puzzle is awesome. This is a $24.99 value – and Hasbro is shipping them free to all our winners.

So congratulations to – and please email your snail-mail address to – our winners:
Jen Robinson
Valerie Strain
Lisa Dalrymple
Goletha Smith and
Greg Heptinstall

Congratulations! Woo-hoo! Picture the confetti I’m throwing.
Ah heck, here – you don’t have to picture it:

Confetti against a blue sky, by Sherrie Thai
Image: Sherrie Thai



  1. Following the advice of Pam Allyn, I’ve been giving my daughter board books to play with while she’s in her high chair (and done eating). This validates to her that books are entertaining, and also gives me a few quiet minutes to eat myself. A win-win all around! And it’s interesting to see which of the books she chooses, vs. the ones she immediately tosses to the floor.

  2. Valerie Strain

    This is more in the way of something that worked for me when I was young…

    I was always a reader as a kid but a librarian made a book suggestion for me that changed my concept of what a book could be. I can’t even remember what the book was but it was about a girl my age and used references to slang, music and clothes of my time. It was a huge revelation that books didn’t have to be about Nancy-Drew-like girls.

    So, as an activity, you could talk about how the characters in the book have lives like yours and how they differ.

    And these look interesting:

    Great site!

    (P.S. Ji Ga Zo… what?)

  3. One thing that has worked well for my young children is “environmental” reading when we’re out and about – things like recognizing the letters S-T-O-P on a sign, spotting the “M” in McDonalds, and progressing to reading directional signs and mileage signs when we’re in the car. These are things that kids can recognize very early, and it also helps pass the time when we’re driving. My daughter finally was able to figure out 2-digit numbers last fall by reading every speed limit sign we passed!

  4. Lisa Dalrymple

    Take your child’s favourite picture book or short story and turn it into a “MadLib”: Type it out, leaving blanks where key words are, allowing your child to give suggestions to fill in the blanks.
    This makes up a whole new, funny – often nonsensical – story of your child’s own. He can illustrate it too, if he wishes.
    (For older kids, this also helps teach/reinforce parts of speech.)

  5. Goletha Smith

    My child who is now nine years old in the 4th grade (is currently homeschooled and reads on 12th Grade + level). While in kindergarten we had punch cards with 20 objects on them, she would receive a punch for each chapter read. We mutually decided what the incentive would be in advance for completing a punch card.

    She’s a varacious reader and the incentives include additional computer time (where she designs power point presentations and multi-media activities) or staying up 15 minutes later to read!

    One of the things we do for fun is, “You read to me and I read to you”. I read to her for 1/2 hour and she reads to me for 1/2 hour and during “girl talk” time we discuss the portions of the book we’ve read to one another. The book she said had tremendous impact on her was “Pilgrim’s Progress” the allegory written by John Bunyan. This book ignited her passion for creative writing.

  6. Greg Heptinstall

    I love some of the points already made. I too had a librarian/teacher ignite reading for me – “Farmer Boy” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I too have used the situational reading with both my daughters, finding words and numbers, using context and design to show how meaning can be altered. We did something similar to the Mad Lib, but we just wrote stories trading off first word for word and then line by line. All were great. I had good success with the “read me one word per sentence, then one sentence a page, then paragraph and suddenly they were reading whole pages. With my youngest daughter the thing that has worked the most is, believe it or not, reading off the iPad. She loves the games, web, movement of the device, and for some reason, even plain text stories read from it hold her attention far more than a simple printed page. We tried Roald Dahl and L. Frank Baum on paper, no go, on the iPad we can’t get enough. Weird, but whatever works. I think the best encouragement to reading though is to just show them how much you love reading yourself. Just read around them, laugh, share what you are learning, and even better share the stories.

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