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Make Summer Reading Sizzle

During the summer months many parents, schools, libraries, and clubs are on the lookout for ways to make summer reading more engaging for students. Summer reading programs are a great way to keep students engaged and active in their learning, even during the summer break. Reading is not only educational, but it can also be a fun and relaxing activity, especially when done outdoors during the warm summer months. However, to make summer reading truly sizzle, here are some simple steps that are sure to create an immersive and memorable reading experience.

Choose a book and complete a project that relates to it

Encourage students to choose a book that interests them and then complete a project that relates to the book. This could be a simple book report or something more creative, like creating a diorama or a character analysis. If multiple students like similar books, they can work together on a group project that relates to the books. This is a great way for friends or siblings to have fun together.  For example, if one student reads The Hunger Games, another might read Catching Fire or Mockingjay, and then they could compare their reactions to events in each book. Completing a project related to the book they have read is a great way to showcase their comprehension and critical thinking skills.

Projects don’t have to be limited to doing them with friends or siblings.  Completing a project that is relevant to the book can be a great way for students to connect with other readers in their local community.  This could be a great way for a local library to host a read and share event focused on specific books.

If you are a teacher or school sending home project ideas, make sure it's something students can complete by themselves or with friends (for instance: no group projects). If students don't finish their projects on time because they couldn't find someone else who wants to help them out--or if everyone else has already done theirs--the whole thing can fall apart before it even starts.  This can discourage students and that’s the opposite of what you are trying to do. 


Project Ideas

Now that you have decided to offer projects you might be wondering what kind of projects to suggest or need ideas.  We’ve got you covered.  Here are a few ideas that work well at home and can be done without assistance.  Please keep in mind the students' age appropriateness for the project(s) that you suggest.

Suggest projects that can bring a character or scene from the story to life.  There are a few products that offer great kits to assist with these types of projects.  For example,  BrownDog Orami Circuits or one of 3DuxDesign’s kits.    You can also suggest projects that relate to a book.  An example of this would be reading Harry the Dirty Dog and then making Bristle Bots or the Hungry Caterpillar or another Eric Carle book and creating art to bring it to life using StickTogether’s World of Eric Carle Collection.  You could also have students write a postcard to someone about one of the Eric Carle books they read.  They can tell about the book and work on their writing skills all in a fun way that most kids don’t even know about anymore.  Older students might want to create their own character or scene inspired artwork using pixel art sticker packs.

Use technology in your summer reading activities to amp up interest

To further enhance the summer reading experience, students can use technology to create a multimedia experience and make reading more interactive. They can also illustrate comprehension by utilizing various hands-on projects that incorporate technology and help brush up their presentation skills.

For instance, if students are reading about dinosaurs, they can look up some videos on YouTube or watch some episodes of "Dinosaur Train" on Netflix. They could even play games with their friends where each person picks a dinosaur and then acts out what that dinosaur would do if it were alive today! Lastly, they could bring dinosaurs to life by creating a stop motion animation video about dinosaurs using  Hue Animation Studio.

3D finger puppets created with 3Doodler pens are a great way to incorporate technology with reading.  Suggest for students to participate in a read aloud, shared, or guided reading experience and then work individually or with others to create a scene from the story.   They can use 3Doodler created finger puppets to create the scene.  Story retells are a great way to build language, speaking, and listening skills. The students’ puppets and shows will reflect their understanding of story structure, sequence, and reading comprehension.  

There are several books that we can suggest to use.  Here are a few ideas.

Pie is for Sharing by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard
Saffron Ice Cream by Rashin Kheiriyeh

For older students, have them demonstrate their understanding of theme and character development by choosing a scene that best reflects the theme and create a 3Doodler stop-motion animation film to illustrate the selected scene.  They can use 3Doodler pens to design the scenes and/or characters and Hue Animation Studio to film the video.   This hands-on project will help them practice comprehension and presentation skills.

Suggest books that help older students get exposure to culture and other areas.  There are several books they could choose but here are a few ideas to help.  

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Using robots is another great way to get students excited about reading and showing off their comprehension skills.   This can be done by using robots to bring a story or character to life through movement, light, and sound.  For example, use KaiBot to complete their Computational Comprehension lesson or use Finch to put on a play using their Finch Tales activity.

Encourage Creativity

Encourage your students to be creative with their summer reading activities. For example, they can create their own artwork based on the book they have read, or even write their own short story or poem inspired by the book. They can also use tools such as Makey Makey or Strawbees to create projects that are inspired by their reading. Makey 

For example, they can create a Life Cycle Project using Makey Makey after reading a book about life cycles.  Here are a few book suggestions for this topic:

Life Cycles: Everything from Start to Finish by DK Books

Educational Book Life Cycles of Animals and Insects by Kangu Kinderbücher

The Life Cycles of Butterflies: From Egg to Maturity, a Visual Guide to 23 Common Garden Butterflies by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards

If you have young students looking to be inventors you should focus on using Strawbees.   For young students they offer Adventures for Little Inventors on their classroom platform.  This includes 12 Activity Booklets that include 48 projects.   If you are sending this home or offering it in a center or library, you may want to print out the booklets for students to use. 

For older students you could let them use the kits to explore their own invention or idea after reading a book about inventors or inventions.  Here are a few book recommendations.

Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton

If students don’t have their own ideas to work with, have them use the book Cardboard Box Engineering: Cool, Inventive Projects for Tinkerers, Makers & Future Scientists by Jonathan Adolph and try to recreate these projects using Strawbees materials instead of cardboard.

Allowing students to express their creativity can help them stay engaged and interested in reading throughout the summer.

Encourage Sharing

Kids love social media so use this to encourage them to read.  Encourage them to share their projects with you, us, and their peers on social media. Additionally you can discuss with them the importance of encouraging others to read and have them share their projects on social media platforms where others will be courage to read such as, Twitter @3Doodler, with us @maker_maven and @EDGEucating, or in group forums or communities that focus on reading.   

This can be a great way to inspire more students to read and create their own projects. You can create a class or group hashtag and encourage students to post their projects with the hashtag. This way, everyone can see what others are reading and creating, and it can help to build a sense of community around summer reading.

In conclusion, you can make summer reading sizzle by suggesting simple ideas and projects that create an immersive and memorable reading experience. By encouraging students to choose relevant projects, use technology, watch films, and suggesting specific books, you can inspire young readers and help them showcase comprehension and reflect on stories during their summer reading.  Additionally, encourage students to share their projects to inspire more students to read. With these tips, you can keep students engaged in their learning and prevent them from falling behind during the summer break. Most importantly you can create a summer reading program that truly sizzles!

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