Looking for engaging ways to introduce your child to reading or to encourage your teen to write? Need some age-appropriate book suggestions or rainy day activities? The materials in the Parent & Afterschool Resources section at ReadWriteThink.org are your answer—all of them created by experts to be fun, educational, and easy to use outside of school. Please share with us how you can share these with your students and their families for use over the summer.
It's great to hear that you're planning to tie literacy learning into your family vacations. I don't think many parents realize that this can be a great way to motivate kids and teens to keep learning while out of school for the summer.
We have a few activites that I think might be right up your alley.
Soundtrack for My Life. I love this activity, and think it could be adapted for almost any experience. How about a soundtrack of your summer vacation? Wouldn't that be such a nice keepsake to highlight all of the memorable moments of your vacation? The idea is that you select 8-10 key events from an experience and then a song to represent each event. [By the way, we created a soundtrack for the RWT redesign process over the past year and it was great fun.]
Design a Travel Brochure. Written by ReadWriteThink's very own Lisa Fink, this would be a great activity and another very nice souvenir to remember the trips and places you visit this summer.
Explore Summers Past and Present. You can keep this more informal than the activity suggests, but wouldn't it be interesting for your children to compare what summer is like now to what you did as a kid . . . way back in the day? :-) The first page of the activity explains why this is helpful.
Write Letters to Friends and Family. Another one by Lisa, this is always a great activity to encourage while children are on vacation. We would love to get a postcard from your family here at RWT! And if you're able to get online, we even have an interactive Letter Generator and Postcard Creator that can help with letter writing.
As for books for teens about Delaware beaches, I thought the book Hello USA: Delaware looked pretty good, although maybe for a slightly younger age. But hey, it's summer so an easier read might be OK. Of course, Frommer's is also good and Off the Beaten Path. If you're looking for more casual teen reading, the Young Adults' Choices list and Children's Choices would be perfect for good beach reads. Those books are recommended by kids and teens themselves.
Happy vacationing and summer learning! Hope this information is helpful.
Exploring the great outdoors can be a good motivator for reading. Here are some "best book" suggestions with a science focus.
Undersea Animals: A Dramatic Dimensional Visit to Strange Underwater Realms, by Jane H. Buxton
Sisters & Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World, by Steven Jenkins & Robin Page
An Egg is Quiet, by Dianna Aston
Where in the Wild, by David Schwartz and Yael Schy
Julie of the Wolves, Jean Craighead George
The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring, by Richard Preston
Don't just let your 13 year-old have all the fun. My kids (3 and 7) love the Reading Hunt Activity from ReadWriteThink's Parent & Afterschool collection. Using Green Eggs and Ham as inspiration, your family (or your 13 and 3 year olds working together) write a poem about the places you can read. This is what our last poem looked like:
I can read in a chair
I can read with my bear
I can read in a tree
But I might skin my knee
Love it. My 2.7 year old will have fun with this "Reading Hunt Activity from ReadWriteThink's Parent & Afterschool collection. Using Green Eggs and Ham" one. She already has her own version of "I don't like green eggs and ham." Actually she doesn't like anything green called food - except M&Ms.I will post her version in full later.
Yes, my daughter's school in Arizona participates in the Pizza Hut Book It reward program, http://www.bookitprogram.com/parents/about.asp. When they read, they earn points towards a free pizza. However, it is only from Oct- Mar so it doesn't run over the summer.
Our public libraries do something like this. Depending upon the child's age, they have to read (or be read) a set number of books. When they finish they get a packet of coupons for ice cream, bowling, baseball games, etc., and they get to put their first name up on the wall of the library.
Here is an activity to help children explore their local library: http://www.readwritethink.org/parent-afterschool-resources/activities-projects/exploring-library-30286.html.
Our public libraries have a nice incentive program - they frame it as a "game" - and as the kids read, the earn coupons (based on pages read) and move around the gameboard. Prior to the start, the kids set a reading goal - number of pages to read a week based on their ages. As the kids play the game, they may land on a spot to read a certain genre, or to do a certain activity related to the book that they read. There are opportunities to earn coupons by doing above and beyond the contracted amount, too. The coupons can be spent weekly -on little goodies, or saved up to "buy" a book of their choice. While the coupons are the "extrinsic' motivators, to be sure -what it does do is get my boys in the library on a weekly basis during the summer - and they are excited to keep reading.
Incentives usually work for children of all ages., Parents set up an incentive program by establishing something the child (children in the family) would like to obtain. Tell the child (children) if they participate in your "summer reading program" that the prize at the end will be (this is where you insert their wish list.) Begin the program, by finding one of the topics of interest to each child and check out the recommended Newberry or Caldicott books that come close to that interest, and put the book in your child's hands. The incentive program is a building program. When the child completes the book, a chip is awarded and another book is waiting to be picked up, and the more books the more chips that can be accumulated. If a special event or a video game is desired by the child, then establish x number of chips to get the prize. Before you know it, with the right selection of books geared to the interest of the child, you will have a reader. And the best part, you eventually won't have to supply the incentive chips for prize. Finding a book of interest to your child that is part of a series is another good way to "hook um."
For those of you who have a newborn, buy a cloth book and throw it into their crib. Books were thrown into my children's cribs at 3 weeks. The results brought about curiosity, lots special reading time between parent and child, and in the summer, a minimum of three times a week to library hour. The end result turned out to be adolescent readers who turned into adult readers. Another idea would be for parents to have a quiet time to discuss the books with the child after the book has been completed.
Karen and et al, I agree incentives work but we must be careful with that approach. It is important that we get children to internalize the value of reading so let's be sure to have incentives that are blended into the activities and don't come across as bribes.
As an example, I kicked off the summer at my home this weekend (with 4 Preteens visiting and my own) and as an exercise they get to tell me what dish they want on the Grill menu tomorrow (Sunday & Monday) only after they have read about it and can answer four questions each ranging from the origin of the food they choose to something about the native land and its people. I have given them many more parameters than i care to take the time to post. If they don't impress me with their knowledge of the dish I get to choose the menu and for now it looks like Grilled Tofu, Salmon Burgers, Broccoli, oxtail and water with slices of fruit (yes no sodas or other juices) will be on the menu -- much of this menu pains me as much as it will them.
Al, What a great idea! As a post meal discussion they can practice their use of descriptive language.
Ok Al, I have to ask....how was the meal?
I think that your example touches on a really important point - I call it "the time and point of need" approach- I think that we have to create the conditions for time and point of need - one of the big hooks for kids and reading can be about fueling their "passion" areas- what is something that they really want to immerse themselves into in order to become an expert? (And the big test of that is to then be able to teach others about their knowledge or to do something with it...)
So the big question is, how can we create these opportunities within our daily lives? I am working with my younger son on designing our little vegetable garden - he is reading up on types of plants, sun/nutrient requirements, etc.. And I would be remiss if I didn't include these Thinkfinity resources that we might "consult" as we get set to break ground this week -
http://www.kidsgardening.com/ (A partner reviewed site from Xpeditions)
http://www.garden.org/home (The parent site from above, partner reviewed from ReadWriteThink)
From menus and grocery lists, to trip itineraries and summer honey-do projects, I think we need to immerse our kids in the rich world of print in order to create those "teachable moments" all summer long!
Thanks for the lead on the kids gardening web site.
As for my experiment with the kids meal. After they looked at me as if I had three heads they decided it was worth the effort but came back with their own rules changing the "game" a bit. I agreed to the new rules and suffice it to know that we did not have Tofu for memorial weekend. The weekend culminated with a Justin Bieber like song by the kids about food.
I love the way you frame the concept of "teachable moments" I am a believer.
I wonder if they'd have fun blogging about the books they read, adventures they have, and things they learn over the summer. Be sure to check out the group we've formed around Blogging with Elementary Students.
Designing your own vegatable garden is a great project for a child during the summertime. My daughter (who is 5) is fascinated with planting seeds and watching plants grow.
I really like how you are incorporating research before beginning the project. This is such an important literacy skill. Once you have your garden up and running, consider having your son keep a summer garden journal, as referenced in this ReadWriteThink activity: http://www.readwritethink.org/parent-afterschool-resources/activities-projects/watching-garden-grow-30277.html.
Hope you'll share some photos and some excerpts from the garden journal too. We'd love to hear how things are growing!
Growing a vegetable or flower garden is a great summer activity. Kids definitely love to grow and observe plants, especially if they get to eat the final product!
Science NetLinks has a number of resources to help kids and parents conduct a plant invegstigation, which can be done with veggies, flowers or any other plant really. In this activity kids make observations about their plants and record their findings, so kids are developing their science inquiry skills as well as their writing skills. Kids can also take pictures of their plants at various points of growth and upload both their pictures and observations to our website.
You can check out the website here:
As an elementary librarian, I create a suggested summer reading list that goes home with each student. I "group" these suggestions by "teacher favorites," "student recommendations," "just for fun," "beginning to read," and "want a challenge?". I suggest to parents they find a quiet time during the day to read, I suggest afternoon, after that trip to to pool or beach but before dinner. I continue with the suggestion that the parents sit and read too. I tell the students to find out what their favorite relative's favorite book was growing up and read it. Some of my classroom teachers are looking into blogging with their in coming students about their summer reading. This suggest list is shared with the local public librarians and local book stores. The librarians have told me parents actually come in with the list and look for those books. My next "project" is to get the sixth graders to blog and suggest the one book every student should read before graduating sixth grade. As for recommending one or two books to read for the summer...I just can't! It depends on the student's taste in books. I'm enjoying The Keys to the Kingdom Series(Nix), I loved the Penderwicks(Birdsall), am going to read the next two Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians(Sanderson)...so many books so little time!
My daughter will be starting junior high in the fall. The librarian from the junior high has set up book clubs for the incoming 6th graders. Twice a month, she will visit our local libraries to meet with the students and talk about books. They will all be reading books from a state awards program. I love the school library - home connection!
If you are looking for a good book for your child/student this summer you might tap into EDSITEment's established list of Summertime Favorites - http://neh.gov/projects/summertimefavorites.html with many timeless classics for all grade levels that parent/teachers may want to reference as they target great books for their children/students this summer. I ll be referring to this to find titles to suggest to my own twin 9 year old daughters. This will happily supplement the short list of selections their elementary school has suggested. We have been participating in our local county library summer reading program ("game") since before they could hold a book! This year the county library has configured the game so they can log their reading minutes (or hours in my girls' case) online which they later apply to claim their prizes when we make our weekly library stop.