Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Host Your Own Summer Reading Party

Can you believe that the summer is just about half over?? Madre mia! Where is the time going? We have been busy, busy, with swimming, science experiments, movies, and...READING! Of course, we are participating in the Latino Children's Summer Reading Program. But that's not all. We're involved in our local library's SRP, and are keeping up with several reading sites for fun ideas, crafts, printables, activities, and more. And one of my favorites is Education.com, which has a free DIY summer reading camp that they've created in cooperation with PBS KIDS. I love the fact that all of these reading programs can complement each other and keep my kids busy every week with literacy-based activities.

This past week, we even hosted a summer reading party for some of our friends using a kit from PBS KIDS. It included books, postcards, reading logs, bookmarks and more. And while all the goodies were fun, it was the activity we chose to engage the kids that was really the best part of the party.

Education.com has many activities to choose from, but we decided to work on maintaining and developing their math skills with the Math Bugs activity. A dozen kids attended our little party and all of them enjoyed the idea of making bugs out of numbers. From ladybugs out of zeros, to a pair of butterflies from the number eleven, the kids used their imaginations to make all sorts of crawly insects like spiders, moths, snails and more. We had the older kids helping the younger ones and even one of the adults jumped in on the action and made her own craft. :) And I think seeing an adult participating helped to motivate some of the kids. The supplies were simple: colored pencils, construction paper, pipe cleaners, googly eyes and glue! I think the neatest part is that after they create their insect masterpieces, they can then use their numbers to build simple or complex math problems by adding, subtracting, or even multiplying the numbers together.

But really, there are SO MANY great activities on the site to consider. Younger children may enjoy making their own I Spy Alphabet Bottle, while older kids my prefer Word Girl's Synonym Salad. But don't worry if you have a wide age range of kids. Just do what I did and put the older kids in charge of helping the younger ones assemble their crafts. 

Now why can't you host your own reading party? All you have to do is print up some bookmarks and reading logs, read a few books, and then choose a craft to keep the kids engaged and excited about summer learning. You could even invite each guest to bring a book to swap and at the end of the party, each guest takes home a new book to read. (We're all about recycling, you know.)

Just look at all the fun these kids had:

Keeping the kids involved in summer learning activities is really important to me because experts say that all kids lose ground – in math, reading or other areas – if they don’t engage in learning activities over the summer. So in addition to summer camps, vacation bible school, and our reading programs, I'm scouring the web and even looking at television programs.  PBS KIDS is in the middle of 10 weeks of themed programming to inspire children ages 2-8 to explore and learn. Each week features episodes from a different PBS KIDS series.

The line-up includes:
  • WILD KRATTS – “Bug Week,” starting June 3                       
  • SUPER WHY! – “Super You Week,” starting June 10
  • SESAME STREET – “Literacy Quest Week,” starting June 17           
  • MARTHA SPEAKS – “Puppy Week,” starting June 24           
  • CURIOUS GEORGE – “Creative George Week,” starting July 1                     
  • DINOSAUR TRAIN – “Dinosaurs A-Z” starting July 8             
  • DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD – “Let’s Play Outside Week,” July 15                  
  • THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT! – “Let’s Get Wet Week,” starting July 22        
  • ARTHUR – “Sports Week,” starting July 29               
  • WORDGIRL® – “What’s Up With WordGirl Week,” starting August 5
Remember that it is important to limit your child's screen time. But I do admit that in the summer, I'm not as strict as I am during the school year. I take comfort in the fact that I know they are watching educational programming and I don't have to worry about commercials, or the content of the shows they are watching.

How do you keep your kids busy learning throughout the summer?

Disclosure: I am a PBS KIDS Ambassador, which means I occasionally receive special announcements and educational products to review and share with you. All thoughts and opinions are my own, however. 


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