School is almost over, milestones have been celebrated, the last sport tournament is just around the corner, and thoughts turn to summer vacation – where to go, what to do, and how to fill the time between visits with family and friends. It is also important to think of ways to ensure that during this two-month break our children don’t forget everything they have learned in school.
When my girls were little, we always tried to take advantage of the many free and child friendly activities that happened over the summer. We:
- joined the Summer Reading Club at the library. The girls picked up a week’s worth of books and rushed home to read them so they could be finished before we headed back to get the next week’s stickers
- took the train downtown to the Street Performers Festival or the Klondike Days Parade
- watched the Canada Day fireworks after spending most of the day at the Legislative grounds
- planned the bus trip to Heritage Days and each of the girls chose what food item they wanted to bring for the Food Bank.
We often wondered through our neighbourhood with no specific destination in mind. It was a way to get out of the house and keep the kids active, but those walks would have been a perfect opportunity to practice their literacy skills without them even knowing. I wish I knew then what I know now. We could have:
- played a game of street sign bingo – how many stop signs could they count on the way to the park or yield signs on the way to a play date, or what was the most unique sign found
- searched for all the letters in their names on street or business signs
- looked for all the numbers from one to ten, or the numbers in our phone number, in the numbers on the houses
- sung a song about all the colours of the rainbow and looked for them in the beautiful flower gardens we passed along the way
- planned ahead to make it to our local spray park before the mad lunch rush
- discussed all the different shapes we could find like the octagon in the stop sign, the triangle in the giant slide, the rectangles made by doors, or the circles in the playground
- named all the different animals we could see as the clouds passed by in the sky
- counted how many steps it took to walk to the mailbox and back.
We also could have done more literacy activities at home. We could have:
- used sidewalk chalk to encourage the kids to write and illustrate their own stories – each square in front of the house another page in their book
- researched what flowers or veggies grow best in our area, then they could have planted their own to take care of over the summer
- planned a back yard pool and sprinkler party and sent invitations to their friends
- read the comics and then created our own.
There are so many opportunities at our fingertips to support and build on our children’s literacy skills – we just need to look at things with a different mindset. The next time you see a child scribbling on your sidewalk, take a minute to ask them about the story they are trying to tell.