Looking for more creative ideas besides library visits? Do you have a struggling reader or an adolescent who won't touch a book without bribery? Read on for more summer activities...
Enjoy the beach with your little one by making a game of wading into the water and tracing letters in the sand. Use opportunities to practice letter sounds: trace the letter "S" and ask your child, What starts with "S" at the beach? Sand, seagull, starfish. If you'd rather stay close to home, hang out in the backyard instead and trace letters in shaving cream...then cool off (and clean up!) by running through the sprinklers. Your preschooler will love getting wet during the hot days of summer.
If your child loves to act, choose his favorite book to "perform" outside with props and costumes. Read Teacher Tom's Blog for an adorable example with the classic picture book Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina.
Use the great outdoors to inspire haiku poetry during family trips to the beach or park. Haiku is a Japanese poetic form that consists of three lines and references a season or idea in nature. The first and last lines of the haiku contain five syllables while the middle line contains seven syllables. Play "What am I?" by instructing your child to write her haiku as a riddle:
Green and speckled legs,
Hop on logs and lily pads
Splash in cool water.
What am I? ...a frog, of course! Source: KidZone Poetry.
Another fun activity is what I like to call "Outdoor Theater," similar to the Caps for Sale activity mentioned above. Children write scripts with lines and stage directions based on their favorite novel to be performed for family and friends. Your child can also include real-world elements by creating invitations and theater tickets for guests. And the best part? Be sure to videotape the performance so that your child can watch himself with delight, over and over again.
Junior High & High School
Most junior high and high school students have required summer reading lists, but if your child is anything like I was back in the day, she crams all five mandatory novels into the last week of summer vacation by skimming, reading CliffsNotes and calling friends.
To supplement, suggest a pleasure-reading activity by organizing a family "Cinema Book Club" based on a book-turned-movie of your child's choice. (Note: If your adolescent is a reluctant reader, gently suggest options but let him take ownership of the activity to cultivate motivation.) Each family member obtains his own copy of the novel, agrees on a due date, and reads in his own free time.
The whole family discusses the book prior to watching the movie together: Did you enjoy it? Who is your favorite character? What questions would you like to ask the author? What do you think is the theme? If you're watching the movie at home, create an authentic movie-going experience by cranking the AC, dimming the lights and serving irresistible, buttery popcorn.
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird