Literacy on Vacation


You may want to make your child’s summer educational, but there is also likely a long list of day trips, play dates, and mini-vacations that you have planned. It can be hard to find time to fit learning in. Surprisingly, literacy can be snuck into many different activities, if you know where to look. So, let’s say you’re…

On a road trip

Your family is venturing out on that dangerous feat known as spending several hours in a cramped space together. Lucky for you, adding a few twists to classic car games can make the experience a lot more fun. You can add phonics to I Spy by giving guesses like “I spy something that rhymes with” or “I spy something that starts with”. Trying to spot different provincial and state license plates can also be a fun way to pass the time. You could say that for every out-of-province license plate a person sees, they get a point, and whoever has the most points at the end of the ride wins. As well, tongue twisters can be fun to do. Trying to say “toy boat” three times fast or “Peter Piper picked a pair of pickled peppers” usually throws kids into fits of giggles, and it helps them understand how silly and clever language can be. Finally, and perhaps most obviously, listening to audiobooks can be a great way of passing time in the car. Many children’s books have popular audio versions (Stephen Fry’s narration of Harry Potter comes to mind), and it can help expose kids to books that may be too intimidating in written form.

At the beach

The beach can seem lacking in reading opportunities, but you may be surprised by how easy it is to develop literacy skills here. You can play a game of pass it with a beach ball or other water-friendly toy, and each time a player catches it, they have to add a sentence to a story. Each time the toy is dropped, a new story has to begin. Spelling is also fun to practice at the beach. After all, who hasn’t written their name in the sand before? Kids could try writing letters or words with different objects, like their fingers, sticks, toys, etc, and see how it looks at the end. You can even incorporate more conventional reading into your visit by writing different sight words on floating balls, and have players read aloud the word on each ball that they catch.

At the cottage

Summertime at the cottage is usually full of family and friends, so you can do a lot of great group activities. Sneak literacy into a bean bag toss by making players say a word starting with a certain letter for each bucket they throw the bag in. Play board games like Scrabble, Cranium Cadoo, and Pictionary to work on spelling and reading comprehension.  Everyone at the cottage could be challenged to try reading in as many places and situations as possible – in a tree, by the lake, with a stuffed animal, and inside a tent. You could even do dramatic storytimes and puppet theatre.

It can be difficult to think about learning when your summer is so busy, but luckily, it isn’t hard to add literacy to your summer plans if you get creative. I hope these suggestions help you. What other ideas do you have for incorporating reading and writing into your summer?

Submitted by Emma A., July 2014