Writing into Summer

I was so inspired by Margaret Wilson’s recent blog post on “Last Read-Aloud of the Year”—she gives such great ideas for final classroom reading-writing connections leading into the summer break! It made me think about how much teachers and schools are doing to get kids to read over the summer as a way to address the summer learning gap that affects so many young students. Lists of books, book bags, book-count contests and challenges, summer reading programs at libraries—all help motivate and engage children who love to read and encourage children who might not otherwise pick up a book over the summer to do so.

Margaret’s suggested classroom activities made me think about how much the general literacy skills of children might get a boost over the summer if students also went home with a list of writing ideas to share with their parents:

  • Give your kids a “shopping list” pad for their own use over the summer. Kids love to make lists too, whether they are four or fourteen and heading to the mall or the beach. Dictate your grocery list to your child as you drive to the supermarket. Let them check off items on the list as you shop.
  • Give your child a summer journal, or, if you have the time, make one togther with your preschooler or early elementary student. Some kids love to write everyday, keeping a diary, writing fiction stories.
  • Yes, older kids are writing every day, many are adctd2txt (addicted to text), but they are busily writing, even if they are not using vowels. Are you up for learning the lingo?
  • Emailing to grandparents (yes, I know Skype is wonderful, too) is a great way to build writing skills, and grandparents love written communication as well as being talked to on the phone. (What they really adore the most, of course, is snail mail on real paper written by the grandchild in his or her own handwriting with a drawn picture or two to go along.)
  • Older children love to write fan mail to ball players and to music and movie stars and sometimes can be encouraged to write letters to the editor of a local paper or to comment on a blog.
  • Remember picture post cards! If you’re traveling, have kids send them to themselves as well as to relatives. They love to get mail from themselves when they get home and they are always surprised because you usually beat the postcard home (the ultimate snail mail).
  • Memory boxes. Have children write a letter to themselves at a given age about their summer, for example, “The Summer I was Six” They can put the letter in a special envelope and you can start a Summer Memory Box…a private time capsule that can be read in future years, who knows when…add pictures and drawings to taste.

Happy writing!


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  1. Chip says:

    mag – Glad we connected at the conference yesterday; now I know where this comment came from! also look forward to August. Glad you found the blog entry useful. Chip

  2. mag says:

    Hi Chip! I didn’t know you maintained such a fabulous site! I like your comments about tattling and self regulation and will share them with the teachers. It gives us a new slant on teasing and I need that right now! With the end of the year it seems like the kids are having more trouble than usual getting along.
    I enjoyed your tips for summer literacy and hope you don’t mind if I share them with parents.
    We missed you at the April retreat, but Pamela did a masterful job of facilitating, for sure!

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