Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down?

Have you ever seen movie review shows on TV? You know, the ones where the person that saw the movie is telling you all about it and giving their opinion on whether you should go see it or not? Well now it’s your child’s turn to be the reviewer but they’re not going to review movies, they’re going to review their Summer Reading books.

Once your child has completed their required Summer Reading Book, head over to our Summer Reading Project for step-by-step instructions on how they can review their book! Students entering grades 2 and 3 will probably need assistance with the entire project. Older students should be able to do much of this on their own but should have supervision and permission to post their reviews. Did you read the book too? Feel free to post your own review!

Please make sure that you assist or supervise your child with this project to insure their online safety. They should not use their full name or an actual picture of themselves when registering or being registered on

Summer Learning Ideas

Did you know that many students lose more than 2 months of knowledge over the summer and all children experience some learning loss if they do not engage in educational activities during the summer? So, while summer is a time for fun, there should also be time for educational activities. Here are some suggestions of things you could do with your child this summer for both fun and learning:

  • Visit the library and read – not just what is required for the summer reading but other books that interest your child. Why not learn about something new with your child? Check back here for a fun idea of something you can do after your child reads their summer reading book!
  • Visit museums, aquariums or other attractions that educate as well as entertain.
  • Spend some time visiting some of our What Can I Do When I’m Done Sites – these are all sites that have educational value as well as fun activities. Please make sure that your children are supervised if they are using the Internet!

I would highly encourage consistent typing practice (10-15 minutes at least every other day) for any St. Martin’s Middle School student who is not typing at least 25 words per minute and it never hurts for younger students to practice typing too. Knowing the keyboard and being able to touch type is a skill that will help both in Middle School and beyond. This should be supervised to insure that your child is using correct posture, hand positioning and is trying to type without looking at the keys.

How can you practice typing over the summer? You can purchase and install a typing program such as Mavis Beacon which costs about $20 but there are free online typing lessons available. Many of these sites do have ads though some of these sites have a premium option which you can purchase that will remove the ads. Here are some free typing sites with lessons:

  • – Lessons, Graphs to track progress, typing games. This site requires registration and can be ad free for a $5 one-time donation. You can customize the look of your background and some other features.
  • – 27 lessons. This site requires registration.
  • Learn 2 Type – This site has various excercises, preformance charts, typing speed tests and more. Lots of ads and it’s a little difficult to know exactly where you are in your typing knowledge. Registration is required. There is a pay option to get rid of ads.
  • – This site has lessons, games & speed tests. You can use this site to see what speed you are currently typing at. I recommend using at least a 2-minute speed test and any of the following lessons: 9, 11, 13, 26-30. We often use this site in class to test speed.
  • PowerTyping – Simple typing lessons where you can type to music to encourage rhythmic typing. Records your WPM on each lesson and assigns a grade.
  • Sense-Lang – A simple site with lessons starting with the home row. This site also allows you to paste text from anywhere and practice typing using that text. This is a nice feature since it practices real typing rather than just random words or letter combinations.
  • Custom Typing Training – This is a subscription site for $7/month but you can sign up for a free 4 week trial. You must have a credit or debit card for this free trial. This site is unique because it does not use the traditional homerow approach to teach typing. For students that seem to be having a hard time with typing, this could be a solution since it approaches typing from a different way.
  • NimbleFingers – This site has online typing tests and a typing program you can download called Word Wacker. This is a free to try program. Read the Tent Trick here for information on how to make a cover for your child’s hands and for information on when your child should move on from the Home Row. And, check out the Healthy Typing section for some exercises to prevent carpal tunnel.
  • E-Learning For Kids – May be a little young for most middle schoolers but this is a fun animated course.
  • Dance Mat Typing – Fun Characters and songs to introduce Touch Typing for children 7-11 years old from the BBC. This might be a little young for most middle schoolers but it has fun characters. No speed feedback until all lessons are completed.