5 Ideas for Keeping Language Arts Skills Fresh Over Summer Break

Following on the heels of contributor Amy Anderson”s wonderful post on letter writing from Wednesday, here are five more ideas for keeping your child”s language arts skills fresh this Summer.

With a grin on her face, my eight year old declares, “Mooom, I ain”t gots nothing to do.” She does this on purpose, of course, knowing that her words will make me cringe as if she had scratched her fingernails down the chalkboard.

While I know she is speaking this way just to tease me, this does raise the issue of the potential for languishing language arts skills now that summer vacation is here.  She made such progress during the last school year, and I don”t want to see those skills fade over the break before school begins this fall.

Seeking to keep our language arts skills fresh and ready for the school year ahead, I”ve been making sure that certain activities and grammar exercises have been a part of our summer time fun.

Perhaps a few of these will be a hit with your little scribes as well.

1. Mad Libs

One of our favorite games for grammar and parts of speech review is Mad Libs. These books are available in a wide range of themes. There is even an iphone app and an now as this classic game adapts to these modern times.

Playing with a pencil and paper is still our favorite way to enjoy Mad Libs, and sometimes we don”t even use an official book, but make up our own.

2. Spelling Games

Bananagrams is a fun spelling game that a cousin introduced us to.  You can read the rules here at the Banagram website.  We don”t own an official Banagrams set, but have made our own with second-hand scrabble tiles.

I can usually find scrabble games at yard sales or thrift stores.  Even the ones missing some pieces are valuable to us as we have found that we can never have too many tiles in our collection, especially vowels.

Of course, the original Scrabble game is a great way to keep spelling skills fresh, as are word searches and crossword puzzles.

Speaking of crossword puzzles, my daughter recently hit a milestone:  her first finished crossword in pen.

3. The World of Language

If you”re looking for some books to reinforce language lessons, I can”t recommend Ruth Heller”s beautiful World of Language series enough!  Their bright, vibrant illustrations and clever poetry explain grammar concepts and the parts of speech in an engaging way and the poems lend themselves pretty easily to memorization, too.

I keep these books on display within easy reach and have come across Jillian reading them on a fairly regular basis this summer.

4. Creative Writing

Earlier in the summer we were given an advance copy of Rip the Page! Adventures in Creative Writing by Karen Benke.  We”ve been having such a good time with this book, enjoying especially the wide variety of writing exercises and the invitation to “try this …” and yes, to “rip the page!” right out of the book and get creative!

Ms. Benke invites kids to use the book as a personal journal “for inward-bound adventures” and brainstorming, dreaming, and exploring in their writing.

There are word lists, “suddenly a story …” exercises, secret codes, and advice from favorite authors like Lemony Snicket, Annie Barrows, and more.

Our favorites are the “Spoonerisms” – a type of pun where letters get switched around (think along the lines of Shel Silverstein”s book Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook.)  Coming up with our own “Spoonerisms” has become a new pamily fast-time.

5. Acrostics

An acrostic is a piece of writing, usually a poem, in which the first letter of each line spells out a word or a message. See if your child can come up with an acrostic for their name.

Kara had
An awfully hard time
Reading her name

If that isn”t enough of a challenge for your child, have them try to come up with a double acrostic – when the first and last letters of each line spell the same word or phrase.

Does your family have a favorite word game? Share your ideas for language arts fun!

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at KElizabethFleck.com.

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  1. Thanks for the reminder, I knew there was something I have been meaning to do… We have had bananagrams for ages and I just haven’t got round to it – I know I have to play once or twice and the kids will be off with it!!! Have a fun week…

    Here’s our post on word games: http://www.se7en.org.za/2008/07/24/se7en-of-the-best-word-games
    se7en´s latest post: Sunday Snippet- Se7en Life Skills Lurking on the Internet…

  2. These are excellent! I love the mad libs. And I think I might try to implement all 5 this week. Today is going to be an inside day due to the rain, too. Perfect.

    Adventures In Babywearing´s latest post: life inspired

  3. We also love Mad Libs! :)

    Great thoughts and ideas…thank you for sharing them with us.

  4. Great ideas, Kara. We love madlibs!

    We also sometimes just put in a little discipline – I’ve encouraged journal writing, essay writing and we have periodically memorized little poems. Keeps the structure a little and despite the initial grumbles, these guys sometimes really get into it.

    • I’ll add onto my earlier comment from when you first ran this post . . .
      We also have had a word or a few words for the day that we write up on the erasable board and everyone tries to use them a few times. This has also been helpful as we study Japanese as a family.

      Another fun game: Play Mother May-I but insert spelling into the mix. Have them spell “cat” and if they’re successful they get to take 2 giant steps forward, etc. My kids loved this game!

  5. Love the Ruth Heller books! I have a couple I use when I teach grammar, but my 5 year old daughter loves them as well.
    Paula@Motherhood Outloud´s latest post: An Uncomplicated Life- Entertaining Your Kids

  6. So, oddly enough, I am commenting again on the same post almost a year later! (I still love the Ruth Heller books : ) With our now 6 year old, we are also going to continue journal writing over the summer. And, if you need some help for journaling with younger kids, Starfall has a great Reading/Writing journal for only $2 at their website (http://order.starfall.org/k/shop2/index.html) They use to give these out for free and I thankfully saved some from my public school days. We are going to use them on days when we need some ideas for writing!
    Paula´s latest post: Plea from a Pastor’s Wife

  7. These are great ideas and much needed to help out during the summer breaks. We are a game-playing family here and many of them help with math skills too! :)
    Paula@Simply Sandwich´s latest post: Caution- Stranger Danger Ahead!


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  2. […] 5 Ideas for Keeping Language Arts Skills Fresh Over Summer Break – Simple Kids If you’re a family that takes time off for summer break, here are some great ideas for ways to keep working on Language Arts. […]

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