Last weekend, I had the sweetest opportunity. I went and paid a surprise visit to a former student of mine who had set up a lemonade stand. (Don’t you just love budding entrepreneurs?) It had been three years since we’ve seen each other, and bless his heart, he remembered me! What fun it was to catch up a tad and to learn that his favorite subject in school now … is reading, and, even better, W-R-I-T-I-N-G.
Talk about making a (semi-retired) teacher’s day!!
We chatted for a bit, and I shared a video I saw on my Facebook page of a Giant Octopus Kite, and asked him whether he thought it looked neat or if it would be scary to him. (This has been a small research project of mine in recent days and I’ve learned I’m the scaredy-cat not today’s children.) Later, I shared the video with his mom to suggest that he might want to write about it.
This, and a few other events, got me thinking about the ways we can prompt children to write over the summer. My husband once said, “You may not be a teacher anymore but you still think like one.” Okay, I’ll admit it. That’s me! Haven’t you heard the expression: “You can take the teacher out of the school, but you can’t take the school out of the teacher.”?
That same evening, my cat and I were hanging out next to each other on my couch when we heard two dogs yapping outside. Although they were next door neighbors they hadn’t really had an occasion to get acquainted since the one is just a puppy and new to our area. They weren’t very loud, and they didn’t frighten my kitty, but they did get our attention. And, I’m sure they were just being playful. At one point my cat, GG, meandered over to our front screen door and watched the dogs. As an eight year old indoor cat, I wondered what she wondered as she watched the cheerful canines.
I almost wished I was teaching children again, or still homeschooling my son. What fun it would have been in that moment to ask children questions like these: “What do you think the dogs are saying to each other?’ “What do you think the cat is thinking while she is watching the dogs?” and “Would the cat talk to the dogs at all?”
What creative brainstorming opportunities to get young children using expressive language skills, and writing stories, right?
My husband and I had also taken a walk around a lake recently and ‘the playful little girl in me’ had to run and get on a swing and pump herself up as high as the clouds. Hey, it was a beautiful summer evening with warm temps and zero humidity. And, it was FUN!
Then, there were the 15, or so, ducks munching on grass on the side of the lake as we passed them. Being the silly willy that I am, I looked right into an adult duck’s eyes, and said, “We’ll just walk right by you guys. We promise, we won’t harm your beautiful babies.” (And, yes this amuses my husband!)
Maybe I’m just a crazy creative teacher chick but I used to get the creative juices of my students flowing with fun ideas like these. And, yes, children can be encouraged to write over the summer to practice, and improve on, those skills.
Even though most children are on summer vacation they can still read, and write, to keep those skills sharp. Parents can encourage this too whenever they have the chance.
Hey, it would be beneficial to encourage a break from screen time anyway, too, right?
Children can also be encouraged to write about their experiences, whether they too enjoy riding on swings or walking by a bunch of ducks. From my teacher perspective, the opportunities seem to be everywhere, especially as I recalled some of the events I had just experienced this past weekend.
Here are some other ideas that might get those brain waves jiggling enough to write some fun stories:
My first summer concert
My first camping trip
The Pop Up Summer Thunderstorm
Field Trips, or road trips, to places like these: pirate ships, amusement parks, beaches, pools, and/ or playgrounds. (In my area, there are several playgrounds and one is brand new. Maybe they would like to hop from one to another and contrast and compare them.)
I also just recently learned of two groups that come to schools and share their activities:
One group shares food, kitchen supplies, and recipes to encourage healthy eating and reading with a purpose while another one brought a huge mysterious truck. In this truck, children were able to sift through sand to find hidden gems and minerals. Posters hung above work spaces so the children could positively identify their findings.
Aren’t those great activities for kids to practice verbalizing those experiences and then writing about them?
And then there was the child in my Book Making class last year. She wrote about her family’s cruise in the Mediterranean Sea. She used photos from her family trip and wrote about the fun places they visited. I admit that I challenged her but she did a great job!
Whether they are inspired to write about our furry friends, their field trips or just fun times, I hope we can encourage children to write stories just for fun.
Click on this link for more information about Barb’s Author Visits and Book Making classes.
Enjoy these summer days, with a good book, of course!
Summer is about to begin and children will gain so much from
Summer Reading programs in local libraries
Read recipes …make homemade ice cream
write about the activity