Creative Ways to Keep Kids Reading and Their Minds Active Over Summer Break


As the long, hazy, carefree days of summer are well underway for kids, it can be a challenge to find a semblance of routine in keeping their minds sharp in preparation for the return of the school year. Reading and math games and other creative activities can help make learning fun while also giving some structure to their long days of camp and outdoor activities.

At the beginning of the summer, we discovered the 2019 library summer reading program called A Universe of Stories. We live in Greenwich but the program can be found at many other libraries. Kids can track and record their reading and log it online. The program makes it fun with cool avatar choices and visuals to keep track of how much you are reading. Also, of course, is the prize motivation. When you sign up, you receive a prize and there are markers that you can meet along the way to earn further prizes.

I like this idea because kids are motivated to go to the library, where you pick up your prize but also you can sit and read or check out books as a nice end to the day. My daughters like how involved they could be in registering themselves (with some help).

There is an outer space theme and rocket ships, and other decorations around the children’s room. Kids are invited to color an astronaut picture and place it on the wall with their name. Once they move up in reading levels, they can move their picture around the room to different stations. The library summer program also provides a list of suggested books by grade level.

Outside of the library, there are fun ways to create an atmosphere for learning, while making it fun and challenging.

For math, we like to use flashcards or make up our own math problems on sheets of paper, and time how long it takes to complete. We have made our own “game shows” with trivia questions including math problems with friends during play dates, with everyone taking turns asking the questions as the host and being a contestant. Including small prizes, again, adds some motivational flavor.

If you are short on time and in the car a lot (as most of us are), you can play trivia games on the road as well, either with a handheld game, cards, or just shouting out questions and answers.

For writing exercises, my kids love writing prompt activity books and journals with fun pictures that allow you to expand on a thought, idea, or character and tell your own story. Also, create your own poems using prompts, pictures, or completing a poem with your own words.

For the most part, we try to find creative ways off the screen, but there are many fun games online that we will use in short intervals or on the library computers. Reading, writing, and math skills can be kept up in the summer and finding your family’s own fun ways to incorporate learning and quality time together can be a fun part of your summer vacation.


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