Part of our summer reading is writing. We want to keep those minds sharp during the summer, and writing is one way to stave off the summer learning loss. (So is math, by the way, but I'm not nearly as passionate about having them do their math workbooks, though they all have them.)
I have used little writing prompt sheets in the past—the type that have a prompt ("If I were an animal, I would be..."), a place to draw a picture, and lines to write on. You can find the type I'm talking about here: Story Starters for Grades 1-3.
I love the story starter writing prompts, but my girls are starting to grow out of them. Instead, I'm going to have them keep reading journals this summer.
Here are some of the things I'm having them do in their reading journals:
1. Write a book report/synopsis.Upon completing each book, I would like each girl to write about it. I found a great pin on Pinterest with an easy formula for writing a book synopsis. (Unfortunately, said pin goes to a broken link, but I do know it comes from the blog Runde's Room.) I made my own version of the formula, and I glued it into the inside cover of the reading journals I made for my girls. They are just simple composition notebooks that you can purchase anywhere, though they are a little cuter than the standard black and white versions I grew up with. Some super cute options include these polka dot composition books and these composition books with fun designs.
Chloe also loves to draw pictures about the book she just read and commonly does this along with any writing she does. Art is also an excellent way to solidify learning and keep those minds sharp!
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2. Keep a vocabulary listWhenever my children are reading, they are also learning new vocabulary. Sometimes they are learning it without realizing it, but they often ask me what certain words mean (or how to pronounce them). This is a great opportunity for them to take the initiative to look up unfamiliar words in the dictionary and write down the definitions.
The first exposure to a new vocabulary word doesn't generally "stick," so as a parent I try to find ways to help them use the word in their everyday language. My favorite is to play a game with them and see who can use it in actual communication ten times that day. Make it fun!
3. Keep track of the books they've finishedI'm encouraging my girls to write down the titles and authors of the books as they finish them. They could have a special section in their notebook to do this, or they can just do it journal style. Whatever works for them! It's also fun to keep track of how many actual pages you read, since that can vary wildly from book to book!
My girls will also be filling one of these out every time they finished, so they can earn a special reward at the end of the summer. (For this printable and other ideas on summer reading motivation and incentives, click here: How To Keep Your Kids Motivated to Read This Summer.)
4. Write down quotes and questionsOne of the reasons I love my Kindle so very much is because I can easily highlight favorite passages and find them again. But before I ever heard of e-books, I was keeping a book journal where I wrote my favorite quotes from the book by hand. I am encouraging my children to do the same.
I also encourage them to write down any questions that pop into their minds while they're reading. Many of those questions will, of course, be resolved later on in the story, but it's fun to keep track of what you wondered about. It also helps in future discussions about the book for say, a book club.
These are just a few ideas for reading journals. I'm sure you'll be able to think of many more! The main idea is to get them thinking about the book, and then writing about it. I also like to keep a conversation going all the time about the books they are reading, and constantly ask them questions like:
"What did you read about today?"
"What is happening in the story now?"
"Who is your favorite character?"
"What do you think/hope will happen next?"
"What made you laugh in your book today?"
"What made you sad in your book today?"
The reading journals were the final addition to the girls' summer reading bins. Only a couple more days of school and I think I'm finally ready for summer! (To see what books are in our bins this summer, click here: Summer 2014 Reading Lists.)
Here's to raising readers! And writers!
More Summer Reading at Overstuffed:
DIY Library Book Bag
Summer Book Club: Wonder by RJ Palacio
How to Choose Summer Reading for Your Children