Start with a Book


Summer Writing

Summer is for exploring, reading, listening and … writing. Give kids a chance to exercise different writing muscles — from poetry to persuasive writing. We’ve put together a number of fun, simple writing activities to do with your child or as a group activity with friends and neighbors.

Nature Journals

Science and math explorations provide your child with a chance to record all kinds of observations. Help your child to make a special journal and encourage her to write down what she observes about her surroundings — looking at both the big picture and the small, examining plants and rocks and insects up close. Use all of your senses! Here are some ideas for things to look for:

A flower tally

Count the flowers in an area in the spring once a week for three weeks. Compare your tallies. Your child will have fun watching the numbers go up as flowers bloom in the spring and summer.

Ant watching

There are ants everywhere! Try following them to their home and see what they're up to. Where do they live? How many can you count in one place? Record these observations and your ant grand total.

Nature scavenger hunt

Use your notebook to make (or draw) a list of some common things and a few rare ones that can be found outside near your home or in a park. Include things like: acorn, pine cone, flat rock, bird feather, weed, flower. Hand your child the notebook and let the scavenger hunt begin!

Create a Poetree

Beautiful tree + beautiful poems = A poetree

Do you have a small tree in your front yard with low branches? That’s perfect for a poetree! If you don't have a "just right" tree in your yard, you could find out about adopting a tree in your neighborhood or city park for the summer. Start your poetree with a favorite family poem or a poem that your child writes himself. Check out the ideas below to help with writing an original poem. If you're looking for wonderful published poems, browse our collection of poetry books.

Along with your poems, you'll need a few supplies to create your poetree: white and colored construction paper, scissors, single-hole punch, yarn or twist ties, clear packing tape and a pen or marker. Cut strips of white or colored paper the same width as your packing tape. Have your child write the poem on a strip, then cover each strip with packing tape on the front and back. Let your child use the hole punch to make a hole at the top of the strip in the center. Then thread the yarn or twist ties through the holes. Hang the poem on the tree and invite readers to stop by and add their poems to the poetree.

Poetry Challenge: Clip It, Pick It, Write It

Create poems with your child based on five “found” words from your newspaper (or a magazine). Cut out words that appeal to you both and put the words into an envelope, then draw five words that you each must include in a poem. After you've finished writing, read your poems together and gather them up into a collection to share with others. (Scholastic)

List Poems

Look around, what do you see? Start a poem with a list of nouns that name everything you see, then add colorful verbs or adjectives. (Imagination Soup)

Grass grows
Trees whisper
Flowers bathe


Write a cinquain (a 5-line poem, often inspired by nature) about a memorable place you have visited: the ocean, a planetarium, the forest, your backyard, a neighborhood park, your school playground — even the flowering tree at the end of your block can be inspiring. Here are the "rules" of a cinquain:

  • Line 1: One word title, a noun that identifies your topic
  • Line 2: Two adjectives that describe your topic
  • Line 3: Three "ing" verbs that describe action
  • Line 4: A phrase that describes something about your topic
  • Line 5: A noun that is a synonym or another way to name your topic

reaching, bending, fluttering
leaves and twigs in the wind

Recipe Share

In Linda Sue Park's picture book Bee-Bim Bop! we join a young Korean girl and her mom as they shop, chop, and prepare a delicious meal together. Everyone has a favorite family recipe, something wonderful that is cooked up for special friends or special occasions. What's yours? Does it have special meaning for your family? You'll need a kitchen partner — your mom, dad, grandparent, or older sibling — to help you cook this delicious dish.

Write up the recipe (be sure you have the correct measurements for each ingredient), the step-by-step directions and one descriptive sentence about the experience of cooking and sharing the food with others. Include a drawing if you like, and make copies to share with family, friends and neighbors. Be sure your directions are crystal clear so that others can try out the recipe!

Review It!

Summer is a great time for new experiences and field trips, near or far. After visiting new places, have your child write reviews of their adventures and create a summer scrapbook. Did you try the new sandwich shop on the corner, see the newest Pixar movie in 3D or explore all the animal habitats at the zoo? Encourage your child to record their thoughts and experiences. All you need is a 3-ring binder, some inexpensive scrapbook paper and adhesive — or you can buy an scrapbook album from a local craft store. Kids can add things like menus, ticket stubs, museum tour maps, autographs and hiking trail maps to accompany their reviews. If you have a digital camera and printer, your child can include his own photos.

More great summer resources for parents from Reading Rockets

Read Aloud Tips

Read Aloud Tips

Read aloud every day with your child and talk about what you're reading. These two simple activities help build your child's vocabulary and comprehension skills.

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Download these colorful ready-to-print lunch box notes, play date cards, and door hangers for the kids in your life.

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