It’s that time of year again: school vacation. The kids are home, their energy level is at an all time high, and it feels like there is an endless stretch of time until school is back in session. Yes, school breaks can truly leave you wondering, “What the heck am I going to do with these kids?” Even on the best day, it can often be a struggle to do anything your children enjoy, let alone find engaging reading and writing activities. Parental involvement is the top indicator for literacy success in young children. So, we need to get on board!
Yet, if you’re looking for activities that your kids will love that will also sharpen their literacy skills, look no further. As a teacher, these are suggestions that I have recommended to parents before the start of a school vacation.
Here is my list of fun reading and writing activities for kids that you can do at home, or just about anywhere.
1. Book Picnic
Is it snack time at your house? Make it a book picnic! Grab a blanket, some comfy pillows, a few special snacks, and let your kids pick what they want to read. Fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, magazines – as long as they are reading something! (Our resident librarian offers tons of suggestions). Your picnic can be inside or outside, whatever the weather allows. The beauty of the book picnic is that it works for kids of all ages; even my extremely active toddler loves this activity. Just don’t forget to grab your favorite snack and either model your own reading or read along with them.
2. Flashlight Stories
Remember being a kid and telling stories by flashlight around a campfire? Bring this activity back! Make up stories together in a dark room with a flashlight for effect, and then have your kids write them down or create illustrations.
3. Design Your Own Magazine
Have your child select a topic that is most interesting to them. It can be dinosaurs, ballet, Minecraft – literally anything that grabs their attention. Then help them create a small magazine from top to bottom: layout, articles, pictures, captions, advertising, the works. If your child is older, suggest creating a private blog instead.
4. Create a Cookbook
Have your child make a list of all the recipes they enjoy having at home and then write a small description of each, including memories about each dish. Record all of the ingredients and directions, and then get cooking. Photograph your time in the kitchen and include the photos in the book. This project may be more time consuming, but it is certain to become a family keepsake to cherish. Plus, cooking with kids is great to combat pickiness and more!
5. New Journal
Sometimes all it takes is a brand new blank journal to spark your child’s desire to write. Make it a special one with a lock and key, a beautiful cover, or interesting quotes written inside. Add a unique pen or pencil to the gift and hope some magic happens.
6. Write a Movie or a Play
This is another activity that can really tap into the individual interests of your child. Do your kids love football? Gymnastics? Video games? Have them come up with a story based on their favorite athletes or characters in the game and then write a script. Or, your kids didn’t like Frozen II’s ending? Encourage them to write a new one! Bonus points for acting out their script and recording it.
7. Pen Pal
There is nothing quite like getting a letter in the mail. Set this up ahead of time and ask a family member or friend who lives far away to help you out by mailing a letter in time for the school break. Your child can respond to the letter and also select someone new they would like to write to. Help your child address the envelopes, too!
8. Time Capsule
Create a time capsule and get the whole family involved. Have your child write a letter to their future self explaining all about life in 2020. Encourage them to explain their daily routines, likes, dislikes, and dreams for the future. Throw in some timely items and a current newspaper, seal the capsule, and then stash it away until your family’s selected opening day.
9. Travel Brochure
Going on vacation or recently been somewhere fun? Is there a destination your child keeps talking about wanting to visit? Have them create a brochure highlighting all the best things to do in that location. Remember that creating a local travel brochure works, too!
10. A Good Old Fashioned Reading Challenge
Head to your local Seacoast library to select some new books for the week. For each day your child reads, or every book they read depending on their age and reading level, they get a sticker or mark on a chart. You can even have your child create the chart for added creativity and fun. Tally a certain number and they get a prize. The prize doesn’t have to be big – going out for ice cream at your favorite Seacoast ice cream shop should do the trick.