By Dr. Heather Wittenberg
Learning doesn’t have to stop the summer fun. Pre-reading skills give your kids a boost when school starts in the fall, so I’ve created a day of learning that has lots of built-in reading fun. Have the kids help you plan every step along the way!
- Early Morning: Go on a short nature walk after breakfast, while it’s still cool outside. Even in the city, you can find bugs, birds, plants, and all sorts of “treasures.” Bring them home in jars, or take photos for later use. Label each treasure to build writing and reading skills.
- Mid-morning: Bake alphabet-shaped sugar cookies to have for snack. Roll “snakes” with the dough, and then shape the letters. Make sure there are enough letters for everyone’s name. Decorate and enjoy, knowing you’re boosting letter recognition, and building fine motor skills for writing.
- Late morning: Bust out the treasures from your nature walk. Research your unusual finds online, print out photos for collages, and then paint, color and decorate. Create summer greeting cards for the grandparents or cousins. (And don’t tell the kids they’ve just had a reading and comprehension lesson!)
- Lunchtime: Hungry minds lead to hungry tummies. Everybody helps to make lunch. Follow kid-friendly recipes that allow kids to look for ingredients, measure and mix. Kitchen projects are a great way to improve reading readiness, attention and concentration – and help kids work together to complete a project.
- Early Afternoon: Rest time. Read story books about the outdoors, and ask your child to remind you what you found on your nature walk. Repeating stories is fun for kids, and it boosts their reading and recall skills.
- Afternoon: Outside water fun. Use big paint brushes to paint water letters and shapes on the sidewalk or driveway. Mix your own bubbles — from a recipe the kids help mix. Don’t forget the sidewalk chalk for letters, words and shapes. Great practice in letter formation and reading!
- Late afternoon: Dress-up story time. Pick your fave stories, and have dress-up gear on hand. Put on a show later for when Mom or Dad comes home from work, or when grandparents visit. Don’t forget to hand out your wonderful handmade collage cards as gifts. Dress-up is great for reading comprehension and learning the elements of story-telling!
Share your ideas for a summer filled with learning in a comment below.