You know how important it is to make sure your kids keep learning during the summer months. It is clear that engaged children who work on reading, writing, and math skills over the summer months maintain skills, and it’s just as clear that children who do not not engage in learning over the summer months slide backwards. Here are some suggestions for fun activities to keep kids’ reading and writing skills sharp in the summer. Your child may not even know you are slipping a little education into summertime adventures. Enjoy these activities, laugh as much as possible, and have a wonderful summer.

  • Make a summer calendar with your child. List special things you want to do. These could be field trips, lists of books to read, writing to accomplish, or games to play.
  • Take your child to the local library. Be sure to get or update a library card. Sign up for the summer reading program.
  • Challenge your child to write 10 to 20 to 30 minutes per day, depending upon age and grade level, all summer long. Make a chart to track the progress.
  • Start a portfolio of your child’s stories, poems, and other work (this could be a folder on the computer and/or a hard copy). It can be fun to reflect on later.
  • Start a summer journal. Encourage your child to write about what they’ve done each day or  thoughts that come to mind. Encourage them to share entries with you.
  • Here’s a little something for the next 26 days: Read a book today with an author’s last name that begins with the letter A, tomorrow with the letter B, the next day with the letter C, and so on (you could also choose titles beginning with each letter). Your local librarian can help you find new books.
  • See how many places inside and outside of your home (other than in books) where your child can find words to read. Collect the words on paper.
  • Find a pen pal. Connect with someone from school, a family member, or another friend and exchange regular letters. Consider writing to an imaginary friend, too.
  • Visit the library today. Check out two fiction books. Check out one book to read together and one to read independently. For pre-readers, independent reading could mean simply looking at the pictures.
  • Do some quick writes. Just write for 5 minutes and then stop. Or just write 100 words and then stop. Write about whatever comes to mind, what you see, or something you want.
  • Make and play some Memory games. Use pictures, letters, letter sounds, sight words, high frequency words, vocabulary words, or summer words.
  • Take or draw a picture. Create 4 or 5 words that describe the picture. Then write a few phrases or a few sentences or a short story.
  • Set up a scavenger hunt. Leave notes around the house leading to other notes. The final note leads to something special, such as a prize or favorite activity.
  • Have a No TV or No Screens Night. Turn off all electronics. Read, tell stories, present some arts and crafts activities, or play a few games instead.
  • Writing prompt: What do you know more about than anyone else you know? Give as many details as possible.
  • Bake some fortune cookies. Write short messages on small pieces of paper and bake them into the cookies. Include positive messages as well as predictions for the future.
  • Visit the public library. Check out some nonfiction books. Consider a variety of books on different or similar topics. Take as many as can be carried.
  • Focus on a book your child likes. Have them write a written response. Share with family members. This could take the form of a written narrative or a creative poster.
  • Write a letter to a character from a story. For example, the Cat in the Cat in the Hat, or Harry Potter. Share your thoughts. Ask some questions. Put the letter away for a week. Then take the role of the character and answer the questions.
  • Just write words today. Work on a word wall to post on a bedroom wall or a word journal to keep nearby when writing. Collect and list some powerful words. For example, try to come up with alternatives for the word “good.” Start with awesome, fantastic, and great.
  • Try to read something today that’s not a favorite. Do you like fiction? Then read some nonfiction. Do you like sports? Then something related to history. Like comics? Then read some poetry.
  • Write a letter to an editor of your local newspaper or another publication your family reads. Respond to something in the paper (or magazine, etc.). Write a letter that presents an argument and explains a point of view. Remember to include supporting statements. For a larger audience, and to see the work in print,  send the letter to local newspapers.
  • Play word games such as Boggle Jr., Scrabble Jr., or Word Yatzee today. Set up a family tournament.
  • Play games of I Spy all day long. For ball, start with “I spy something red” or “round” or “beginning with the /b/ sound.” or “rhymes with tall.” Give additional clues after each guess.
  • Do a crossword puzzle with your child. 
  • Read some comics (or a graphic novel) today. Pay particular attention to the dialogue, how the characters interact and talk with each other, and the tone of the conversation.
  • Writing prompt: Describe your perfect summer day. Where would you go? Who would join you? What would you do first, second, and third? How would you feel? (You can also use these questions to write about a fun day you had this summer.)
  • Make some alphabet soup. Print names on paper (or use magazines/newspapers), cut out the letters to those names, put the letters into a pot, stir well, pull letters from the pot one at a time, and try to spell words.
  • Have a writing day today. Every hour stop what you’re doing and write something. Stop and write a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a thought, or a list. Share with others. 
  • Take a field trip to some place special. Talk about what makes that place so special. Watch something about it on PBS, a nature or history show, or YouTube. Talk about the content. Do some research for more information.
  • While in a group, one person writes a sentence. The second person reads the sentence and then follows it with their own sentence. Fold the paper so that only the previous single sentence is shown. Pass to a third person, who reads the second sentence and writes a third sentence. Continue on. After about 10 sentences, stop and read all of the sentences. Need a story starter? You are an ant looking up at a giant. What do you see, and what will you do next?
  • Rainy day? Have an indoor camp-out. Make a tent from a blanket. Read some stories, tell some stories, and eat s’mores.
  • Use your senses to describe something in your home. Remember to include what it looks like, what it sounds, smells, feels, and tastes like. Turn it into a story or a poem.
  • Play a board game today. Encourage your child to read all of the cards. Help out only when needed.
  • How many objects shaped like a ball can you see around the house? Make a list. Describe those objects with 5 to 10 phrases. Use descriptive words. For older children, continue by describing how those objects are used. 
  • Play a basketball game of Horse. Use other animal names or summer words for a second round.
  • Play “What’s It Worth” with some variations. Each letter in a word is replaced by the number order it appears in the alphabet. For example, A is 1, B is 2, C is 3. Rewrite the words with the numbers and add the numbers. Find the most words worth less than 25 points. Find a word worth exactly 75 points. Find 3 summer words worth between 25 and 50 points. Find a word worth more than 100 points.
  • Writing prompt: How would you spend the perfect day? Who would you spend it with? What would you do? How would you prepare? Write for a specific audience. Write for parents, siblings, teachers, peers, or pets. Then change the audience and write again. Compare the two pieces.
  • Have a reading marathon with younger children. Just read as much as possible. Have a reading contest with older children. See who can read the longest without taking a break.
  • Writing Prompt: What rights for children and teens should be included in the Bill of Rights? Talk about the response, add lots of details, and then write the response. Add an illustration and a caption to that illustration.
  • Taking a trip? Play the alphabet sign game. Find signs that contain the letters of the alphabet. Start with the letter A and go in order. 
  • Write notes back and forth to a parent, sibling, or friend. See how long there can be no talking and only writing.
  • Spend the day asking only open-ended questions that begin with “why” or “how.” This may be hard to do at first, but with some practice, it is possible.
  • Try to write a poem today. This could be a narrative poem, a found poem, or a haiku. Share with others at dinner time.
  • Each person finds a poem to read before dinner. Practice reading out loud beforehand. Already writing poems? Then take an original poem to read.
  • Think about something you learned about this summer, or something you learned more about this summer. Write a paragraph or letters to a friend explaining what you learned.

Do you have other suggestions for ways to make reading and writing fun?

Bruce Johnson is an educator, reading specialist in Merrimack Valley School District in New Hampshire, member of CLiF’s Advisory Board, and author of Helping Your Child Become Successful in School: A Guide for Parents. Learn more at

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