Lynn E. Marcks
Kids, Hammocks, and Books
Kids, hammocks, and books are a great combination especially during the hot, lazy days of summer vacation! Away from schoolbooks and homework assignments, it is a perfect time for recreational reading. And a perfect time to read about characters that make smart decisions and show young readers about positive character traits and values.
Parents often worry about the amount of learning their child may lose over the summer vacation. But, summer is a wonderful time for reading, listening to, and writing stories and poems in a relaxed reading environment. By planning ahead, and spending a consistent amount of time each day, parents and grandparents can provide a wealth of reading and learning adventures for their child/grandchild.
Here are some ideas to make reading and writing an important and exciting part of your child’s summer:
ÿ Provide your child with a notebook to keep a list of favorite books and authors. Writing a few sentences or drawing a picture about each book helps children to think about what they have read.
ÿ Ask your child to recommend a book for you to read. Then, read the book with / to your child. Ask your child why they recommended this book.
ÿ Encourage your child to make responsible decisions about the amount and type of TV / Video Games / DVD’s they watch and play. Consider having your child earn TV / Video Game / DVD time---perhaps a half-hour for every half-hour of ready they do.
ÿ Putting together a blank book of pages along with colorful markers / crayons / chalk / watercolor paints will give your child a perfect journal for writing and drawing.
ÿ Encourage your child to write a letter to grandparents, friends, or a neighbor. Writing grandparents is a sure way for a child to receive a return letter in the mail.
ÿ Following a family adventure to the park, county fair, petting zoo, shopping mall, or campground help your child make a colorful tri-fold brochure inviting other families to visit the place.
ÿ Community libraries schedule special activities and incentives to encourage summer reading. Often family events are scheduled encouraging families to read and play together.
ÿ Set up an outdoor room area where you and your child can read together in a nature friendly environment. Putting a few comfortable lawn chairs together overlooking a garden; a rocking chair on a porch or patio area; big comfortable throw pillows in a grassy area; and of course a swinging hammock between two trees are inviting environments that call us to relax, observe, read, talk, and rest.
ÿ Model those inquiry behaviors for your child by keeping a journal / notebook, magazine, or book with you at all times. Children learn curiosity and wonder by observing these behaviors from their parents and grandparents.
ÿ Collections of any kind---rocks, bugs, leaves, keys, model cars, shells, provide a form of data collection for children. They can collect information about their collection and record their findings on a chart; on a piece of tag board or cardboard; in a notebook; or by preparing a computer generated file. Children enjoy photographing their collections and adding these to a computer photo gallery. With guidance, children may create a power point of valuable information about their collection.
ÿ Visit some fun reading / writing websites with your child:
www.smart-central.com for nursery rhymes and music
www.pigeonpresents.com/pals-knuffle.aspx for fun Knuffle
www.jackprelutsky.com enter the website and click on the
images to read the author’s poems
www.kidsplanet.org/factsheets/map.html non-fiction text
and facts about animals all over the world
www.kidsreads.com for information on authors and book reviews
Many books are written portraying characters making smart decisions. At the same time, these characters teach us about positive character traits and values. The nIc Foundation recommends the following children’s summer reading choices focusing on characters that portray positive character traits and values in making smart decisions and choices:
ÿ “Knuffle Bunny” by Mo Willems. Positive character traits and values: family/belonging; communication; and compassion.
ÿ “Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton. Positive character traits and values: empathy; honor; and family and belonging.
ÿ “The Sandbox” by Don Rowe. Positive character traits and values: fairness; cooperation; community; and friendship/belonging.
ÿ Riding School Rivals” by Susan Saunders. Positive character traits and values: fairness; respect; and patience.
ÿ “Frog and Toad Together” collection by Arnold Lobel. Positive character traits and values: friendship/belonging; loyalty; being liked; and acceptance.
ÿ “The Hundred Penny Box” by Sharon Bell Mathis. Positive character traits and values: faith; human dignity; diversity; honor; and celebration.
ÿ “Standing Up to Mr. O” by Claudia Mills. Positive character traits and values: freedom of expression; fairness; and friendship/belonging.
ÿ There’s a Girl in My Hammerlock” by Jerry Spinelli. Positive character traits and values: competition; equality/acceptance; community; loyalty; achievement/success; and cooperation.
ÿ “The Recess Queen” by Alexis O’Neill. Positive character traits and values: self-worth; friendship/belonging; and loyalty.
ÿ “Whoever You Are” by Mem Fox. Positive character traits and values: self-worth; diversity; and acceptance.
So—parents and grandparents, find that special time this summer with your child/grandchild to share stories and poems in a valuable reading and writing adventure. You will not only be reinforcing the importance of reading and writing, but you will be indirectly helping your child/grandchild learn positive character traits and values.
This article may be reproduced and distributed by education and / or nonprofit organizations as long as credit is given to Lynn E. Marcks, nIc Foundation, Inc., Clintonville, Wisconsin. July, 2010 publication.