So, today is the last day of school for all Queensland schools and other states will all be finished soon. The school holidays will be stretching ahead of you – long and hot in most cases. School holidays, particularly the long ones, are notorious for boredom. And although I’m a firm believer in a bit of boredom, a couple of good activities never go astray.
Holidays are also the time when I found my students stopped reading or dramatically reduced their reading. This meant that they were often a little behind when they started back at school. Now I’m not suggesting that kids should be attached to books all holidays, but a regular diet of reading can be both enjoyable and give them a step up when they get back for the new year.
So how do you mix reading and holiday activities? Well let me present:
Go To The Library
You knew I was going to suggest this one, didn’t you! But I have real reasons for suggesting it.
To start with, they’re air conditioned, free and full of cool summer activities and ideas. Most libraries have summer reading programs, with some pretty amazing prizes available. There’s story times, craft activities, guest speakers, plus the allure of lots and lots of books you’ve never read before.
What else can you do while you’re there? Let your kids learn how to use the library catalogue. Have a scavenger hunt for information on different topics. Research a topic you’ve always wanted to know more about. Try and read all the books by a certain author. Introduce your children to the reference section (they might even have encyclopaedias!) Look for books about books or libraries, like That Book Woman by Heather Henson. Create a blog about the books you read. Make a list of awesome books for friends to share.
Another thing you can do is go to libraries you’ve never been to before. We have absolutely loved checking out new libraries. If you’re in South East Queensland, I highly recommend Logan Central, Caboolture, Brisbane Square and Redcliffe. If you’re not in South East Queensland, but you have a favourite library near you, leave a link in the comments!
Go on a Museum Adventure
Have you ever read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg? It’s an amazing book about a pair of siblings who run away and hide out in the museum while solving a mystery. It’s a great introduction to the wonders of museums, and I thoroughly recommend reading it and then heading out on a museum adventure of your own.
Is there a museum near you? The school holidays are a perfect time to go visit it – and really explore it! A couple of years ago I did a ‘museum unit’ with my class and we took a trip to the Queensland Museum (before the latest refurbishment). While we were there we discovered the research room (with drawers full of animal poo!), cool animal exhibits and a whole lot of information about old transport (like a fire engine powered by bicycles!). We drew pictures, wrote stories, explored history and asked questions. Later we set up our own museum back in our classroom – a great activity!
Hit the Beach
I love the Roland Harvey book At the Beach. There’s so many things going on in it that it’s like a Where’s Wally without the frustration! It’d be a great book to read before going on a trip to the beach, whether it’s a day trip or a longer one. You could make a list of some of the things you see in the book and see if you find any of them at the beach!
Of course, sand is great for all kinds of sensory play if you have an early learner. There’s also heaps of books and poems about the beach and the ocean. You can also take lots of photos and use them as inspiration for drawing or writing later in the summer.
Create a Magical World
It took a Goodreads recommendation to find Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran, but boy was I glad I did. In the book, the children create a whole world, with rules and houses and places of business out of a nearby hill. It reminded me of when I was younger and we had hideouts all over the place!
This is a great book to inspire your own places of imagination. They can be a corner of the backyard, or a pile of boxes, arranged in just the right way. You could even make a place for stuffed animals or other toys. A blanket or a sheet over a table makes an ideal hideout, and on a rainy summer day, with a pile of books and a torch, you can’t get a better reading nook!