Summer is here! The sun is bright, the weather is warm, and the kids are bored. We all agree that summer is a time to relax and have fun. It is also well known that children, as well as adults, learn more when they are relaxed and happy. So, here's to a summer of fun that builds school skills!

Let's read

Offer kids conventional and nonconventional opportunities for reading. You can invite them to read from their favorite books or read the words to their favorite songs, recipes, and jokes.

Word games

Gather some puzzles, riddles, and guessing cards, and let children practice and consolidate new words. These games not only build vocabulary, but they help with following directions and focusing skills. You can also print out crosswords and word soups and let children solve them.

Play board games

Board games provide great opportunities to have fun while learning. You can use the same board to practice different skills. For instance, if you are working with letters and sounds, you can add different tasks, such as saying a word that begins with a particular letter, a word that ends with that letter, or a rhyming word.

Word challenge

Get some old magazines. Cut out words, phrases, and sentences. Paste them together on a sheet of paper. Use the words to write a story, poem, riddle, joke, alliteration, or other creation. Invite children to illustrate their writing.

Visit the library

Visit the local library, and let your kids choose their favorite storybooks. Does the library have a book club? If not, why not start one? Invite your kids to help you decide on several titles, and then ask your friends over for the first book-club meeting.

Daily writing

Why not begin a journal about what kids have done during the day? Let kids have a time to write and draw about what they did during the day. You can let them paste photographs to decorate their diaries.

Mystery object

Choose a different object each day, and hide it in a box or bag. Write different clues on Post-it notes or small cards. Stick the notes around the house for kids to find and read. Use as many clue cards as you want. If your kids can't read, you can draw different parts of the object like a puzzle. When they get all the clues and guess the object, let them pick it up from the box. Ask them to draw and write a short description adding details.

The password is ...

You can use a new word as a password each day. Ask children to use the new word as a password during their routines. Whisper the password during breakfast and let them remember the new word during the day.

Word hunt

If your kids have been learning a specific list of words, use the words in a word hunt. You can write the list and let kids find the words in the supermarket, while riding in the car, in a book, in the neighborhood, or elsewhere.

My favorite book

Let your kids choose their favorite book. After reading the book, invite them to make their own book following the same story format. Challenge children to choose interesting animals, and perhaps to put themselves in the story. For example, if they choose Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? they may write, "Ana, Ana, what do you see?" "I see Mommy looking at me!" and so on. Have them illustrate their book by drawing their own pictures.

On the loose

Do you love Dr. Seuss? I do! Here are some ideas for activities related to his books: Turn a Dr. Seuss book into a Reader's Theater presentation; invite a relative to read his or her favorite Dr. Seuss book; make a graph showing the results after your kids vote for their favorite Dr. Seuss book; read The Cat in the Hat, and invite children to decorate a hat, and then ask them to have a hat parade.

Puppet show

After reading a book, invite children to recreate the characters using paper bags, Popsicle sticks, or socks. Ask them to create their own puppet shows.

Guess who I am

Choose characters from different stories. Write short clues about them. Invite children to guess the characters. You can also challenge your kids to choose their favorite characters and write their own clues. If you are working with little kids, let them talk about the characters and draw them.

Provide your kids with a variety of activities, and let them pick what they want to do. Summer is certainly a time to relax. Your kids will keep moving forward with reading and writing while having fun!

Analia Capurro is the author and designer of Her mission is to design resources that promote a learning environment where laughter, fun, friendship, and companionship are as important as any language structure.

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