With free BILINGUAL reading and writing bucket lists for elementary kids
Strengthen your kids’ Spanish (or English) reading and writing skills this summer with these engaging ideas! From creating a writing nook in your home to starting a kids’ book club, the possibilities are endless to learn and practice Spanish this summer (and all year long!).
Start with scheduling in some daily literacy (reading/writing) time, and see how many fun ways your child can practice their skills this summer. Summer reading practice provides benefits that last well into the next school year. And parents can take the lead by planning regular trips to the library to surround their kids with books in the minority language and encouraging daily reading and writing routines all summer long.
In her book “7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child,” parenting expert Dr. Naomi Steiner reminds us of the importance of reading and writing in our minority language. “Reading leads to increased vocabulary and better understanding, which in turn leads to greater facility and enjoyment when using the language.” She also writes, “As with learning to understand, speak, and read in a second language, children learn best how to write in a second language through fun activities geared to their skill level.”
Whether your child is just starting to decode early readers, or completely reading independently, I’ve designed these activity ideas to be fun and functional for a variety of abilities. Likewise, whether your child is working on prewriting skills (drawing, labeling, telling you what to write about the picture), starting to write words, or writing sentences and stories, you can tailor these ideas to your kids’ current skill levels. These ideas have been selected with elementary-aged students in mind.
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1. Build reading and writing into everyday activities
Make sure to set aside a special daily time for reading and writing in the minority language, but involve your child in practical everyday activities throughout the day as well. Have your child help you read a recipe to make a snack with you. Or have the kids write out the grocery list as you tell them what you need this week. A recipe share with other friends or family who speak your language would be an excellent, practical activity!
How about having the kids write a letter to a relative to tell about a summer activity? Or read a letter they receive back in the mail? Let them read the signs on a hike at a local park, or write a note to go with a special surprise for your neighbors. Let them see how much we use reading and writing in practical ways each and every day!
Related post: 10 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Reading Motivation
2. Make a writing center
Gather a variety of writing supplies to create a devoted author space. Pick a table, desk, or other small space for the writing center. Then, grab leftover school notebooks, blank minibooks, sketchpads, cards and envelopes, as well as blank paper of different colors, shapes, and sizes.
If your child is in lower elementary, paper with handwriting lines will make it easier for them. For any age, writing graphic organizers and Spanish printable worksheets can help get the writing process started (find many amazing, free options at Rockalingua, Spanish Kid Stuff, or 123 Teach Me). Creating a special, personalized creation space for kids will set you up for success in encouraging independent writing time and creativity.
More Spanish & English at-home literacy activities (from ReadWriteThink.org)
Let kids have free reign to write! You may even create a list of writing ideas with them to post in the space. How about lists, stories, letters, poems, notes, recipes, how-to instructions for doing a cartwheel or playing baketball? Print off 30 ideas in my bucket list below! Perhaps you’ll even find a penpal (grandparent, cousin, a school friend…) that your child could write to and then read notes written back to them. The possibilities are only limited by your child’s imagination!
Related post: 10 Engaging (Bilingual!) Ways to Practice High Frequency Words
3. Join a library reading challenge
Libraries across the country host incentive programs for kids during the summer months. Does your library have a challenge for kids to participate in? They might even offer a free book to each kid who completes the reading challenge. Check out some interesting stats on summer reading programs from the American Libraries Magazine.
There’s something special about getting involved with your own local library and joining other kids in the community toward a reading goal. Or create your own using the bookmarks, reading logs, and summer bucket lists I’ve created for you! Families, teachers, and librarians – please feel free to share! Check out the Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Challenge here.
4. Start a book club
Gather up some friends from school, your neighborhood, or a homeschool group and start your very own book club! Get together and pick a fun book to read this summer. Make sure it’s a good reading level for everyone in the group – I would err on the side of too easy (no one wants to struggle through over the summer).
You might meet a few times to talk about the book and do a fun activity like drawing a favorite scene or character and telling about it. The group might enjoy a themed playdate or writing a letter to the author when they finish the book. Have them track their daily reading time on one of the free printable reading logs below and provide an incentive (like that playdate, a new book, or a special event) when the book is finished. Here are 20 ideas for starting a kids’ book club!
5. Discover a new online favorite
Don’t forget about the power of audiobooks, podcasts, and interactive reading websites this summer! They can be so helpful for sneaking in daily reading and writing time while parents are busy with something else – and the kids will be entertained and engaged! They’re also excellent ways to “outsource” language input for parents who want to help with their kids’ minority language learning – but don’t speak the language.
I encourage you to check out a few options and find one that your kids will love and enjoy listening to or using. Get started with my recommended resources for learning at home, or free online summer Spanish learning. There are so many quality resources your kids can use to practice Spanish literacy skills!
More online bilingual literacy resources for families (from Engaging Every Student)
6. Do a research project
What new project, hobby, or skill would your child love to learn more about? Maybe you and your kids will start composting this summer or you’ll plant some vegetable seeds in a pot. Perhaps they’d like to know more about coding, fossils, or Mexican folk art. What would appeal to your child? The more personalized and appealing the activity, the more engaged your child will be!
Head to the library to check out informational books and do research on your project. Read about the background knowledge you need, the steps you need to take, and then have fun carrying out your project. Don’t forget to try to find resources in the target language. You’ll be learning new vocabulary in the minority language, discovering new project-related content, and creating lasting memories at the same time!
Get some ideas from Reading Rocket’s “Start with a Book” themed resources (in English – use for inspiration!).
7. Take learning outside
Take your literacy practice outside on a beautiful day for some outdoor exploration! From nature journals or rock collections to a bug study or a bilingual picture dictionary, you’ll find excellent literacy ideas in my outdoor language learning post.
Or keep it simple and take favorite books and a picnic blanket or beach towel to sit under a tree and enjoy some calming outdoor reading time. Another day, grab a notebook and find a shady spot to write – a poem, a fictional story, a list of new nature-related Spanish vocabulary words, or about a recent family outing.
While you’re exploring in nature, look for opportunities to add writing practice in unique ways. How about writing a message in the sand at the beach? What about using chalk to write names, sight words, or positive words of affirmation for your neighbors to find?? I’ve got a printable list of 50 for you in English and Spanish!
Related post: Recommended Spanish books
Foster a love for reading and writing
To maximize your child’s at-home reading and writing practice, set a daily time for Spanish literacy each day. Set up and stock a writing nook in your home that’s ready for a budding author anytime. Involve your child in practical reading and writing practice as you go about your daily routines. And take advantage of fun family adventures – trips to the zoo, a baseball game, or a weekend getaway – to use as inspiration for reading and writing practice.
Help your kids keep up the literacy skills and strategies they’ve learned this school year by providing daily time, activity ideas, and incentives. Create your own summer reading challenge using the ENGLISH and SPANISH free printable bookmarks, reading logs, and reading bucket lists I’ve created for you! Use them all as you intentionally carve out time for your kids to sustain their Spanish reading and writing skills all summer long. They’ll be ready for the next school year to start in the fall!
Writing Bucket List
Reading Bucket List
Summer Reading Challenge – Bookmarks & Reading Logs
Bookmarks and reading logs in this post
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