Get Your Kids Reading This Summer!
Like probably everyone else, summer is one of my favorite times of year! I really enjoy having my kids out of school and to be able to do fun things with them. Of course now, they pretty much have their own schedules (being teens), but we still really enjoy our summers. Reading probably isn’t on any kids top 10 list of what they want to do over their summer break, but we can change that!
Choose A Theme
One of our favorite things to do over the summer has been to … Choose a Theme for the Summer!
Why We Choose a Theme
Why choose a theme? What does this even mean?
Well, let me tell you all about it!
Every year my kids and I choose a topic for us to learn more about over the summer months. We’ve done topics like dinosaurs, pirates, the Wright Brothers, Harry Potter, even geography! Then, it’s just a matter of exploring whatever topic you have come up with. By choosing a theme to explore, you can incorporate books and reading, movies and field trips into your summer. The great part is, it really doesn’t matter what the theme is. Pretty much anything can be fun to explore. Here’s a couple of themes we’ve done in the past.
Our Dino Theme
One year we chose dinosaurs as our theme. I think my kids were both really young (probably about 3 and 5) that year. Fun ages to explore dinosaurs! We spent a lot of time at the library that summer! We spent a lot of time reading lots of books about dinosaurs (both fiction and non-fiction), and we watched movies, and we even built a dinosaur nest in the front yard (a creative way of picking up all the sticks in the yard). But, I’m sure the neighbors all wondered what we were doing. It was great! We wound up with a huge circle of sticks (we had to calculate how big the nest would need to be for the dinosaur they chose). Finally, we finished off the summer with a field trip to Dinosaur World in Orlando.
Then, there was the year we chose geography my kids were a bit older (probably 3 and 5th grades). Because we were going on a trip that summer to Washington DC, we chose geography as our theme! And the fact the our kids had no idea where Washington DC was, made it an easy choice! Hence the need for a little geography lesson.
We made it fun though and got a big map of the US and sent a note out via Facebook and email and asked everyone we knew to send us a postcard from wherever they were vacationing that summer. We wound up having to buy a world map to go along with our US states map, since we had postcards coming in from all over the world. It was fabulous! My kids really enjoyed checking the mailbox everyday. After reading the postcards, we would then make the connections on the maps of where all these people were at for their summer vacation.
Along with the postcards, we chose books that were set in different parts of the United States. So, my kids were reading their way across the country too!
All in all, we got postcards from 3 continents, 5 or 6 different countries, and about 40 states. It was such a fun “lesson”.
How to Choose Your Own Theme
Choose a topic
It doesn’t really matter what your theme is. So, make it anything you and your kids would like to learn about. If you’re going on vacation, maybe your theme can be something that has to do with where you are going. Our pirates theme was because of a trip we had planned to Okracoke, NC (that’s where Blackbeard hung out!)
Choose several different ways to learn about your topic
There are so many ways to learn about things: go to the library and explore what they have (books, movies, magazines, maybe even classes), explore your city in a different way, maybe short day trips to surrounding areas, throw some arts and crafts in there (we made our own pirate flags after learning about Blackbeard’s flag).
Come up with a big culminating activity
It is fun to finish off summer, and your summer theme, with a big culminating activity! It can be anything that is on topic ~ vacation, field trip, make a movie about your topic showing off everything you’ve learned; and remember, “big” is a relative term 🙂
Have fun and be creative!
Remember, it’s summer vacation! So, keep that in mind while you’re planning your topic and activities. If you’re not feeling creative, use Pinterest! You can bet there’s a bunch of other folks that have fun creative ideas about pretty much every topic, God bless them!
So, what does all this have to do with reading? Well, books and reading should definitely be a big part of how you explore whatever topic you decide on!
Here’s a few themes with book suggestions for Reading
The Ultimate Dino-Pedia by Don Lessem – This is a great non-fiction book. Your kids will love this because it contains lots of information for kids who like facts and lots of illustrations to go with that information
How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen – This is a fun picture book. And, whether your kids are really young or not, this is a fun series to read out loud!
Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne – Who hasn’t heard of the Magic Tree House series?! This is a great series to read with your kids, and it’s a lot of fun! And, the first book in the series happens to be about dinosaurs! Great for the beginning chapter book reader (1-3rd graders)
Dinosaur Cove by Rex Stone – This is a new-ish series. But, it’s lot of fun and great for the dinosaur enthusiasts! This series is for kids 3-5th grades.
Pirates Past Noon by Mary Pope Osborne – I do love the Magic Tree House series! And, they have books on almost every topic 🙂 To go along with this book, they also have a non-fiction Fact book that your child might enjoy! Again, great for 1st – 3rd grades.
Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson – I read this book a couple of years ago when it was a Sunshine State Reader. That means it was voted by Florida librarians as one of the best new books out that year for kids. This book is the first of a series and is filled with fun, silly pirate antics. The main character is a girl who wants to go to pirate school instead of finishing school. Good for upper elementary and middle school kids.
Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson – This one is a classic. It would be great for your older readers to read on their own, or for your younger readers, make it a read together book!
Beatrix Potter tales – If you’re going to the English countryside, or not, these lovely stories are worth the time! And, they have been popular for generations for a reason!
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie – Explore Wendy’s London! This would be a fun story to read together and then watch the movie. And then, go see St. Paul’s Cathedral where Peter Pan and the Darling children flew over, and Kensington Park where the Darling children played. There’s a great statue in Kensington Park of Peter Pan.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – Who doesn’t love Harry Potter!? You’ll have to go to Platform 9-3/4 at King’s Cross Station (just in case the Hogwarts Express is there). And, you’ll love that there is a photo op spot there that’s fun to do! Also, there is the Reptile House at London Zoo. And, Leadenhall Market in London was the scene of Diagon Alley. There are so many things to explore in London for Harry Potter!
The Enemy by Charlie Higson – This series is for Middle/High school kids. These books are set in London. And, your kids will love that they even have maps in them! Some of the places you’ll learn about are the Natural History Museum, Tower of London and Buckingham Palace! But, it’s a zombies series, so again, definitely for your older kids.
In the End…
In the end, it really doesn’t matter what your theme is. Because, what really matters is having fun and getting your kids reading! So, figure out what you want to learn about then go and have fun with it!
Wishing you Happy Reading & Great Adventures!
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