Dorothy Hawes (B.A., M.A.) is a Victoria-based writer, editor and schoolteacher with nearly 30 years’ experience educating children and teens.
Running out of ways to keep your kids busy this summer? Give the devices a break and encourage a “write off” instead! As an English teacher, I am always trying to encourage my students to practice some sort of writing over the summer. This doesn’t need to be academic writing; in fact, the more diverse the better. What’s most important is engaging in the physical act of writing itself, whether by composing a letter or a postcard, writing a story, keeping a journal or travel diary, etc. Not only will your kids be developing better written expression, but they will also enhance their fine motor skills and creativity that are so important for brain development.
Going on a holiday? Off to summer camp? Spending time at home? There are plenty of opportunities to engage in writing of some sort. Here are a few ideas, depending on your child’s interest, age level, and particular passions. Your kids will also enjoy checking out the wide variety of journals, scrapbooks and scrapbooking supplies that are available at most book, office and dollar stores.
Sports Scrapbook – perfect for the sports enthusiast:
- Any size scrapbook will do
- Kids can write about their favourite sports events/tournaments/scores etc
- Include team highlights/players/stats, etc.
- Cut and paste pictures of their favourite sports stars/teams/events. Perhaps a brief commentary about their career highlights, what they like best about them, what could they learn from their experiences, etc.
Travel Diary – great for any age and a treasure for years to come:
- Use either a journal or scrapbook for documenting the trip.
- Record daily travels: favourite trip highlights, best restaurants, parks, tourist attractions, anecdotes, etc.
- Have them create a map showing the travel route and stops along the way.
- If making a scrapbook, save pictures, postcards, brochures, tickets, etc. to add to the travel story.
- When they meet new friends along the way, have them sign in to a “New Friends” section of their journal or scrapbook.
- Post-holiday, they may wish to add family and destination photos to their travel diary/scrapbook (develop a few pictures once you are home)
Book Journal – read and then write:
- Make regular visits to the library or bookstore to promote reading over the summer holidays.
- Check your local library for summer reading programs. Most libraries offer reading incentives, special activities, and prizes to keep kids reading.
- Encourage your kids to keep a book journal listing the books they read. Have them write a short review of each book: brief overview, reflections, favourite characters, big ideas or takeaway from the story/novel.
Summer Poets – encourage your kids/teens to wax poetic:
- Contrary to popular belief, kids actually like poetry and they might just enjoy trying to create some of their own.
- It’s easiest to simply write free verse poetry which means they don’t have to worry about rhyme, meter, or follow any particularly poetic rules. Even punctuation is flexible or optional!
- Poetry and lyrics are very similar. They might even try writing lyrics for a new song. Take it one step further and start composing a melody line.
Colouring Books – a great activity for the whole family:
- Check your local bookstore for an amazing array of colouring books that will suit every age group in your family.
- Buy a selection of crayons, pencil crayons, and felts, depending on your preference. If sharing is an issue, provide each child or teen with his/her own pencil case.
- Recent studies have shown how beneficial colouring books are, not only for kids and teens, but also for adults. Have the whole family participate.
- Benefits of colouring include development of fine motor skills, as well as better focus and eye coordination. Studies also show that it promotes creativity and leads to better handwriting. Colouring also provides a great outlet for stress relief.
Summer can be a great way to inspire your kids to be creative and learn at the same time. Any of these activities will pave the way for great success once they are back in school.