Most parents and teachers want to be sure that kids keep reading all summer long. Experts say that kids should read every day to maintain their reading skills learned in the previous school year. The summer is a great time to explore books that kids would not get the chance to read during the school year. For moms of girls, it’s a great time to introduce some strong female protagonists. It’s so important for girls to have great role models in media.
Check out this summer reading list to inspire strong girls. This list is aimed at independent elementary-aged readers, but many of these books make wonderful read-alouds for younger readers as well.
Matilda was one of my favorite books as child. I was so excited when I first got to share it with my own daughter. Matilda is smart, strong, and loves to read. This fun story appeals to both girls and boys alike and has captured children’s hearts for decades.
Nellie Nova series by Stephenie Peterson
Nellie appears to be a normal nine year old girl. But Nellie is not normal. Nellie is an amazingly gifted scientist who lives in a family of amazingly gifted scientists. One day, her brother, Niles, who is eleven, teases her, as all respectable big brothers do. This time, however, Niles goes too far when he tells Nellie that girls are silly and no woman has ever changed the world. This sets off a spark of an idea in Nellie’s most amazing mind and sends her down the path to create a time machine and meet wonderful women who made a mark on the world. First stop, Amelia Earhart! With a few bumps along the way and a government agency out to steal her technology, Nellie and Niles are in for an incredible adventure!
In the second book, Nellie and her brother go on to meet Sacagawea and reporter Nellie Bly, but not without more trouble from those pesky government agents.
I love Pippi! A little bit wild and always full of adventure, Pippi Longstocking is fiercely independent, brave, and owns a monkey. Pippi Longstocking is a great summer read for girls of all ages. I might just re-read it myself this summer.
My nine year old wants nothing more than to be a spy right now. Harriet the Spy was a favorite of mine as a child and I can’t wait for my daughter to read it this summer. Harriet is an aspiring writer who meticulously writes about everything going on around her. When her classmates find her notebook, she’s faced with questions about honesty and friendship.
I read this book over and over again as a child. Anne was my favorite literary character for a long time. Her ever-optimistic character always inspired me to look on the bright side, and her rebellious streak reminded me never to settle. It’s the perfect summer read!
This is the kind of book that sticks with you! My kids and I listened to the audiobook version of it and we all felt like we’d lost a friend when it ended. All of the characters are lovable, but Luna is such a fine example of a strong girl. Full of magic, mystery, and a tiny dragon, it’s just the kind of a book your daughter will love on her summer reading list.
I hope you enjoy this summer reading list for strong girls. Did I miss any books that you love?
Get your kids writing this Thanksgiving with these writing prompts!
- On Thanksgiving morning, you wake up and find that you are not in your bed. You are in a pen, on a farm, and you have a lot of feathers. You’re a turkey and the farmer is hungry! What do you do?
- Your mom tells you that all pies have been banned by the government this Thanksgiving. What do you do?
- You hate turkey. You hate pie. Most of all, you hate cranberries. How do you convince your parents to make something else for Thanksgiving dinner?
- What are you thankful for this year that you either did not have or did not appreciate last year?
- It’s Thanksgiving Day. Your parents decided to order a delivered meal this year. The doorbell rings. You open it and find three dozen live turkeys waiting for you. What happens next?
- Your crazy Uncle Bob shows up at Thanksgiving with a time machine. He sends you back to the first Thanksgiving. What do you see?
- Your Grandma serves a Thanksgiving dinner of cereal, dog treats, and candy canes. What do you do?
- A strange guest shows up at your Thanksgiving dinner. Who is it and how does your family react?
Most kids want to spend their summer playing in the sunshine and having fun. I can’t blame them! When the weather is beautiful, I want to play outside too! I know that many parents worry about too much TV and video game time over the summer and about trying keep kids’ brains active so that when school or homeschool starts up again, their kids haven’t forgotten what they spent all school year learning.
I’ve assembled this list of fun activities to engage kids over the summer. I hope you are able to use it and that you and your little ones have fun learning together this summer.
Oh, how I love science experiments. And my kids love them, too! There are so many fun experiments available online. I especially love Steve Spanger Science. There’s enough on that site alone to keep you and your kids busy all summer! If you want to take it a step further, you can download these free lab sheets and have your kiddos document their findings.
2. Art Projects
I know, I know. Art is messy, but so is life. And your kids will learn so much while creating. There are so many wonderful resources online and at your local library for art. I love The Artful Parent. I also love The Usborne Art Treasury. It’s a great resource to learn about some amazing artists while making a mess. I mean art.
Whether you sign your kiddos up for piano lessons for the summer, try free lessons online, pick up a recorder and a tambourine, introduce them to Mozart and Beethoven, or let them dance around the house to They Might Be Giants, music is an amazing way to help promote brain development and happy kids.
Check out your local library! Our local library system has so many amazing summer programs. From magic shows to story time to animal presentations, there’s something exciting going on every week. A lot of libraries have great summer reading programs with incentives to keep your kiddos reading all summer.
My kids love documentaries. If they are going to watch TV, at least they can learn something. Netflix has a lot of great options for kids. Here’s a great list of nature documentaries by Raising Lifelong Learners.
6. Museum Trips
This is a great way to learn and get your kids out of the house at the same time. I don’t know about your kids, but mine are great at turning a clean house into a giant disaster area in mere seconds, so sometimes it’s nice to kick them out of the house for the day and learn somewhere new. I am blessed to live in an area with several free museums and we take advantage of them frequently.
7. Day Trips
Maybe the idea of getting the kids out of the house was really appealing to you. I don’t blame you. It’s good for moms and kids alike to get a change in scenery from time to time. Where can you drive within an hour or so from your house? The beach? The mountains? A state park? Maybe a battlefield or other historic site? Take advantage of your surroundings. If you head into the wild, take nature journals and let your kids draw and write about their experiences. If you find something historic, do some research on it before you go and discuss it with your kids before, during, and after the trip. This is another great time for the kids to journal. Depending on the significance of the historic site, you may be able to find books or movies to expand upon what you learned. I’ve lived with kids in three states in three very different parts of the USA and I’ve never had trouble finding places like these nearby.
8. Math Games
You can make math fun and help your kids stay sharp. There are lots of games online for free. Depending on their age and ability, there are also some really fun board games out there. My kids love any kind of learning games.
I love audiobooks. Your local library probably has a ton. Best of all, they can keep your kids happy on long road trips! Driving six hours to see Grandma? Get an audiobook! Heading to the beach for a week away? Get an audiobook! I love audiobooks because it’s a wonderful way to introduce kids to literature they can appreciate but maybe not quite read on their own yet.
10 . Creative Writing
Check out these writing prompts I wrote. Or write a story together. Take turns and create a silly story. Another great idea is to get a blank book and let your child illustrate it as he or she writes. Try buying your child a cool notebook and asking them to write a little every day. Just keep them writing because it will serve them well their whole lives.
I hope these ideas helped! Let me know what you do to keep your kiddos engaged in the summer in the comments.
I know that this is not a popular opinion in some homeschool circles, but I think video games can be magnificent educational tools. Now, as the wife of a video game FX artist, I might be a bit biased, but I really think that people are too quick to brush off games as a waste of time. Can they be a gigantic time suck? Absolutely! Are there some games out there that I would not let my kids play? Of course! But there are so many great games out there these days and I think our kids can learn a lot from them.
So, in honor of National Video Game Day, here’s a list of 5 reasons my family loves to use games in our homeschool.
Reaon One: Games Can Bring Learning to Life
My husband recently brought home an Oculus VR headset. It’s amazing! Oculus has partnered with Discovery to provide some amazing 3D experiences. I may not be able (or willing) to take my kids on an underwater field trip with sharks, but thanks to Oculus and Discovery, they feel like they’ve had amazing undersea adventures. Their 3D shark experience inspired a lot of questions and further learning.
There are plenty of games on PC, tablets, and consoles that also provide ways to bring learning to life in a variety of ways. My kids love the Dragonbox apps for math. It’s a great way to make math real for visual learners. Scribblenauts is a great vocabulary based puzzle game. There are examples in just about any area of study. For a lot of kids, games are a fun way to make learning real.
Reason Two: Games Can be Great for Critical Thinking and Spatial Reasoning Skills
Even when a game is not outwardly educational, it can help improve critical thinking skills. Studies have shown as much. While I am not advocating for kids to skip math lessons so that they can play games all day, some time playing age-appropriate games could actually be good for them!
“Visual-spatial skills are viewed by psychologists and educators as the ‘training wheels’ of later skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and there is little question that we will need more and more workers with skills in these areas.” (Linda Jackson, lead researcher of a study from Michigan State on kids playing video games.)
Reason Three: Games Can Inspire Creativity
If you know more than a handful of kids over the age of five, you’ve probably heard of Minecraft. In Minecraft, you can build the world around you. My son has used it to build historic sites we’ve studied- or just his own made up worlds Studies have shown that kids who play games are more creative, and it’s easy to see why.
Reason Four: Teamwork
When my kids play a game together, they have to get along. It’s a great way for them to learn to work together towards a common goal.
Reason Five: It Makes My Life Easier
This reason may be selfish, but let’s face it, life is hard for moms who homeschool kids of multiple ages. It can be very hard to get one on one time with one of my kids when they need my help. I can keep a kid busy with an educational game and it frees me up to work with their sibling. That’s a win-win in my book.
We don’t spend all day every day playing games, and I am very picky about what I let my kids play, but video games are a tool I am happy to have in my homeschool. What about you? How do you feel about video games?
It can be hard to motivate kids to write. It can be even harder in summer when it’s sunny out and there are so many fun distractions. I put together this list of writing prompts to help motivate kids to keep writing all summer long.
1. You return home to find a package on your bed. Your parents don’t know how it got there. You open it to find…
2. You are on vacation at a cabin on a lake with your family. One day, you get up early to go swim by yourself in the lake. As you approach the shore you see what appears to be a sea monster come to the surface of the water across the lake. You gasp and then…
3.The familiar sound of the ice cream truck rises to your ears. You run outside to buy ice cream and find that this truck does not sell ice cream. This driver is selling…
4. Your dad takes you to the pool on a hot day. When you get there, instead of water, it is filled with Jello. What do you do?
5.You are off to Camp Flaming Arrow! You are excited for your first overnight camp, but when you get there, you begin to suspect that all of your camp councilors are actually ware wolves. What do you do?
6. A postcard arrives in the mail, addressed to you. On the front is a picture of a sunny beach. On the back, is a note, signed by you. You’ve never been to the beach. What do you do?
7. One day, you are swimming in the river with your friend, Dave. Dave sees something in the forest nearby. He says it’s a gnome and runs off into the woods. Do you follow him? What do you find?
8. It’s 100 degrees out. You are hot and sweaty and your air conditioner broke. Your mom brings you a popsicle to help cool down. Your dog looks at you and says “Hey! What about me? I’ve got a fur coat! Don’t you think I’d like a cool treat?!” What do you do?
9. One evening, you are catching fireflies in jar in your backyard. You take them inside to observe them. You realize that one of the glowing creatures is not a firefly, but a fairy! What do you do?
10. Your best friend calls and asks if you can come to a sleepover at her house. When you get there, she says she has a special guest. The guest is an alien from outer space! What happens next?
11. A large, white owl flies up to your house. It has a package in its talons. It drops it on your lap and perches in a nearby tree. What do you find when you open the package?
12. You take a trip to the museum with your family. Somehow, you lose sight of them. You walk down a long hallway and see a door that seems to be glowing. A sign on in says “Keep Out,” but you can’t resist. What do you find when you open the door?
13. You return home from a day at camp to find a “For Sale” sign on your house. Your parents tell you that you are moving to China. What do you do?
14. On a bike ride to the park, you something moving in the bushes off the side of the road. You stop to investigate and find…
15. It’s the 4th of July! Your family takes you to a fireworks show. It’s the most amazing display of fireworks you’ve ever seen. You decide you want to get closer to see the fireworks being set off and you find that there are no fireworks at all. It’s actually a group of wizards sending beautiful designs into the sky with their wands! What do you do?
History is filled with amazing women. I believe this so thoroughly that it’s the basis of my book series. The more research I’ve done, the more I am overwhelmed with some of these wonderful, world changing women. Some I was familiar with before I started researching and some previously unknown to me, and many others.
I think it is so very important for our kids, boys and girls alike, to learn about the amazing things women have done throughout history. It’s hard for today’s kids to fully contemplate how far women have come in a few generations. I think if they learn from the past, their future will only be brighter.
Summer is a great time for a fun mini-unit of historical woman. Whether you traditionally school or homeschool, it’s always good to make sure the kids keep learning all year long. I’ve provided information about 10 amazing women and links to learn more.
Image by H. J. Myers – http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004680180/ (Library of Congress), retouched version, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=478182
I knew nothing about Nellie Bly until about 18 months ago. I was so inspired by her that she is featured heavily in the 2nd book in the Nellie Nova series. (Estimated release date 12/2016)
Nellie Bly was not actually her real name, but a pen name. She was born Elizabeth Jane Cochrane. She was a journalistic pioneer not only because she was a woman, but also because she pretty much invented investigative reporting. She turned the world of journalism upside down when she pretended to be insane to to an investigation of a Blackwell Island’s Lunatic Asylum. She spent ten days living as if she were insane so that she could see the dark side of the care of mentally ill patients. Her reporting in The New York World caused a $1,000,0000 increase in New York City’s budget for the care of the mentally ill.
Later, she made an incredible journey around the world in just 72 days. And all she took with her was the small bag you see in the photo above.
Find out more about Nellie Bly here.
Or check out this book!
By Copyright by Underwood and Underwood (not renewed)
My first book, “Nellie Nova Takes Flight”is about a young girl’s journey to build a time machine to meet Amelia Earhart. So you can probably guess that I think Amelia was a pretty amazing woman. Most of us know that she was a pilot. Many think she was the first female pilot. That’s not quite true. Amelia was the 16th woman to obtain her pilots licence. What Amelia did, however was break many records for altitude and speed. She was the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic. She was a wonderful example of a woman bravely stepping into a role traditionally filled by men.
Amelia Earhart disappeared on an attempted flight around the world. Neither Amelia nor her navigator, Fred Noonan, were ever found.
Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.- Amelia Earhart
Read more about Amelia:
Or try this book.
Learn while reading a fictional tale about Amelia here.
By Margaret Sarah Carpenter – object page. Original upload was at English wikipedia at en:File:Ada_Lovelace.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=354077
Did you know the person known to be the first computer programmer was a woman from the mid-1800s?! I didn’t until I started looking into Ada Lovelace.
She was the child of the poet George Lord Byron and his wife Anne Isabella Milbanke. Her mother was a mathematician and insisted she started studying math at the age of four. This was highly uncommon for the time. She excelled in math and science and at the age of 17 she met Charles Babbage, a met inventor and mathematician. She had the opportunity to watch him demonstrate a model of his difference engine, a huge mathematical calculating machine. This machine led to him earning the title“father of the computer.” While working with Babbage, Lovelace wrote out an algorithm clearly meant to be completed by a machine. During her time, her brilliance was not really recognized. It took many years for people to find her notes and realize that she’d written the first computer program.
By U.S. Congress – http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Jeannette_Rankin.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2153200
Jeanette Rankin was another happy surprise during my research. I’d never heard of her until recently, but I am so very impressed. She became the first woman to serve in the US congress in 1916. What makes this even more amazing is that is before women in the US had even gained the right to vote! But Jeanette (and many other amazing women) made sure to fight for women’s rights and the 19th amendment was passed in 1920. Though she only served two years in congress, she continued to work hard an activist. In addition to her passion for women’s suffrage, Rankin was also a pacifist and shortly after her term ended, she served as a delegate to the Women’s International Conference for Peace. She returned to politics when she was elected to House of Representatives in 1939 on an anit-war platform. She held her ground even after the Pearl Harbor attacks, voting against entering WW2. Rankin served until 1943.
By http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/photographs/vips.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3530165
Wait, wasn’t Audrey Hepburn just another pretty actress? No. She was so much more than just pretty! Audrey Hepburn was an amazing humanitarian. She lived in Belgium as a child, but her family moved to Holland when the Nazis began invading much of Europe in WW2. Though her parents were Nazi sympathizers, Audrey secretly donated money she earned as a ballerina to the Resistance. Hepburn later she retired from acting become a Special Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund.”There is a moral obligation,that those who have should give to those who don’t,” she said of her work with UNICEF. Hepburn truly was more than pretty.
To find out more here
or check out this book.
By Nobel foundation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Born Maria Sklodowska in Poland in 1867, Marie was the daughter of two schoolteachers. She always loved learning. She later attended Sorbonne University in Paris where she studied physics and mathematics. In was in Paris that she met and later married scientist Pierre Curie and started going by Marie instead of Maria. They began working together and earned a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903. She was the first She was the first woman to receive this honor. After Pierre died in 1906, she took over his position at Sorbonne. She went on to receive a 2nd Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry in 1911. Marie showed that women have a place in science.
“Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood.” – Marie Curie
7. Mother Teresa
By Manfredo Ferrari – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35010569
Mother Teresa was born Uskub, Ottoman Empire in 1910 (now called Skopje in the Republic of Macedonia). Her name was originally Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. Her father died when she was raised by her mother, a devout Catholic. She decided at a young age that she would become a nun. Her focus became India and she devoted much of her life to serving the population of Calcutta. She dedicated herself to the lepers, the poor and the homeless. She won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. The recipient of this award normally has a banquet hosted in their honor. Mother Teresa asked that the money be donated to the poor. In 1982, during the Siege of Beirut, she saved 37 kids who were trapped in a burning hospital. She created a ceasefire and traveled into the war zone with Red Cross workers to rescue the children. Mother Teresa continued to serve those in need even as her health was in decline. She stepped down only a few months before her death in 1997. Mother Teresa will be made a saint later this year.
“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”- Mother Teresa
By Leonard Crunelle (1872-1944) sculptor, photographer Hans Andersen (Own work for the photo.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Sacagawea is another woman who be featured in the 2nd installment of the Nellie Nova story. She was a Shoshone woman born in 1778 in Idaho. She was the daughter of the chief and was kidnapped at a young age by Hidatsa Indians. She was later sold as a slave to the man who would become her husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian fur trader. Inspite of her hard upbringing, Sacagawea turned out to make quite an impact on history. She and her husband joined the Lewis and Clark expedition and she made the journey with her infant son on her back. She was valuable to the expedition as an interrupter with Native American tribes they encountered as well as for her knowledge of the landscape and safe foods t eat in the American West. She was so dedicated that when the travelers happened upon her own brother, she opted to stay with the expedition and was part of the team that made it to the Pacific.
Not much is truly known about her life, but what is clear is that Sacagawea was a brave woman who made an impact on history.
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6053610
Known as the female Paul Revere, Sybil Ludington is not nearly as commonly known as Mr. Revere. She was born in 1761 in Patterson, New York. She was the daughter of Abigail and Colonel Henry Ludington. At the age of 16, she made a similar ride to that of Mr. Revere -but her ride was longer. On April 26, 1777, her father received word that the British were to attack Danbury, CT,which was about 25 miles away. She rode 40 miles in the rain, shouting for troops to assemble at her father’s home. When she returned, over 400 soldiers had arrived, ready to fight. Later, President George Washington (then General) recognized her efforts. She continued to serve as a messenger throughout the war.
10. Rosa Parks
By Unknown – USIA / National Archives and Records Administration Records of the U.S. Information Agency Record Group 306, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4344206
Last, but certainly not least, is Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks is best known for her refusal to give up her seat on a bus to a white person on December 1, 1955. She was arrested for this act of defiance. This began a boycott of the Montgomery public buses by African American people. The boycott was lead by non other than Doctor Martian Luther King, Junior.After 381 days, the supreme court ruled that public buses could not be segregated. But Rosa did a lot more than just refuse to stand.She went on to Serve as the secretary of the NAACP, found the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development and author two books. She was given the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor by President Clinton. The mother of the civil rights movement died in 2005, but her impact lives on still today.
I hope you learned something new about these great women. I hope this can be a starting point for a great study of women in history with your kids.