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?