Focus on Family: Summer activity ideas from Mommy on a Shoestring’s Beth Engelman

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Beth Engelman

Mommy on a Shoestring

Beth's Suggestions:

DIY Golf Course:
I love this activity that turns recyclables in a miniature golf course that is both fun to play and a great way to reinforce math skills. Use recycled boxes, Toilet paper rolls, cups and oatmeal canisters to create a mini golf course. Make as many “holes” as you can and place them in your backyard. Download our free scorecards at Mommy on a Shoestring and then invite friends to come over and play.

Homemade Bubbles and Wands:
This activity comes courtesy of the Museum of Science and Industry and their Summer Brain Games program, which provides free at-home science experiments designed to reinforce critical skills while exposing kids to really cool science concepts.

Backyard Scrabble and Anagram Games:
Kids (and adults) of all ages will love this game that can be enjoyed indoors or outdoors. We all know that word games such as Scrabble and Banangrams are great ways to help promote reading, spelling and vocabulary building. This idea takes that concept and enlarges it with giant sized letter tiles made with waterproof paint pens and tiles.

Make your Own Journal:
This idea comes from Amy Herzog and Debbie Kanter of North Shore College Consulting  as it’s a great way to encourage kids to put pen to paper and just WRITE! (Especially teens). Use recyclables such as cereal boxes, shopping bags, magazine covers or old maps to make the cover / back-cover of the journal. Add paper with embroidery thread, a needle and a hole punch. Encourage your kids to take the anxiety out of writing by having them jot down a few sentences every day. They can write about their daily activities, their hopes, dreams or what they ate for dinner. The more your kids write, the better their writing will become as they practice expressing themselves with words while also developing their authentic voice.

Free Reading Programs:
Ask ANY teacher and they’ll tell you that it’s vital to keep your kids reading all summer long. To help encourage reading, most public libraries offer reading incentive programs. The Fast Casual restaurant Meatheads is also offering a FREE reading program where they are hosting reading parties at their local restaurants this summer and have also created an incentive program where kids get a free Junior hamburger or cheeseburger after they read a certain number of books.

Sight Word Scavenger Hunt:
A great way to reinforce sight words and high frequency words that help promote reading fluency and comprehension. Simply write grade appropriate sight words and high frequency words on index cards. Punch a hole in the top left corner and loop together with ribbon, string or a binder clip. Then head out with your kids on a walk, as they look for the words on the cards (for example they will identify someone walking for the word walk, or identify the number three when they see a “3”). Each time your kids get a word correct, fold the card in half so they know they already found that word. Need help identifying sight words and high frequency words for your child’s grade? Ask your child’s teacher for a list or download the words at

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