Hang on to Summer

We’ve created a Summer Scavenger Hunt, where exciting, child-friendly activities and summertime learning come together! To get started with the Scavenger Hunt, download and print our Scavenger Hunt Workbook. As you and your family complete the activities, be sure to add a colorful badge to the workbook for each completed activity. Happy hunting! 

A loving father of African descent sits on the couch at home and reads a storybook to his preschool age daughter. The child is sitting on her father's lap and is smiling while looking at the book.

Keep Them Reading at Every Age

No matter what age your child is, you can make reading a part of every stage of their childhood. As they discover and experience the joy of reading, your children will also be working on their language and cognitive development. Here are some great tips for you to use at every age and stage in your child’s reading journey.

List bullet icon Infant - Encourage your child to touch and hold the book. Children learn through all of their senses. Point to pictures of animals or vehicles with older infants and make sounds that your little one may repeat. Use large gestures and repeat words to keep your infant’s attention.
List bullet icon Toddler (18-36 months) - Ask your little ones to point to what they see as you read. Where is the dog? Can you find the sun in the sky? Talk about who the characters are and how they might be feeling. Make faces and express different emotions together.
List bullet icon Preschooler (3-4 years old) - Focus on the conceptual part of reading. For example, ask your child to point to all the blue items or count the chickens on the page. Ask your child to choose the book you will share.
List bullet icon Pre-K and kindergarten - Read rhyming stories and repeat the rhyming words together. This supports letter-sound recognition. Point out words that begin or end with the same letters and have your child do the same. Explain new words to your child, and relate them to what your child already knows.
Smiling young african American mother sit on warm floor play with little infant toddler child, happy biracial mom relax have fun read book with small baby girl at home, motherhood, childcare concept

Characters Make Reading Fun

What’s better than adorable animals? Reading about them with your children! There are so many fantastic children’s books featuring animal characters that children connect and engage with. Practice reading with your child with some of these great books: 

List bullet icon "Owl Babies" written by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Patrick Benson
List bullet icon "Good Night, Gorilla" written and illustrated by Peggy Rathmann
List bullet icon "Corduroy" written and illustrated by Don Freeman Do Unto Otters written and illustrated by Laurie Keller
List bullet icon "The Rabbit Listened" written and illustrated Cori Doerrfeld
List bullet icon "How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends?" written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague
A mother is gardening with her elementary age daughter outside on a sunny summer day. They are watering the plants with a watering can.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

One of the best parts of summer is planting a garden and harvesting the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor! Ask your children to help you in the garden whenever possible. Not only will they enjoy spending quality time with you and getting dirty, they will also learn a lot! Gardening teaches children about the environment, plant lifecycles, science, math and more.

List bullet icon As you work in your garden, ask your child simple, open-ended questions, such as “Which leaves do you think will grow first?” What will grow before the flower blooms?” Why do plants need water?” This will help them use their critical thinking skills!
List bullet icon Another benefit of growing your own fruits and vegetables is teaching children about the health benefits of fresh produce. As you discuss nutrition, make sure the information is age appropriate. For example, you can tell your toddler and preschooler that red food, like tomatoes, help your heart. Your Kindergartner will understand a little bit more, so you can tell them that tomatoes help them fight sicknesses.
Mother feeding child vegetables. Mom feeds kid in white kitchen with window. Baby boy sitting in high chair eating healthy lunch of steamed carrot and broccoli. Nutrition, vegetarian diet for toddler

Rainbow on a Plate

All of the best fresh produce is in season during the summer, so there’s no better time to teach your children about nutritious meals. The easiest way to introduce children to eating a range of food is to use the rainbow. Introduce tasty fruits and veggies of all colors and encourage sensory food play to help your little ones feel confident to try new foods and flavors. Here are a few fun food play ideas to help get you started. 

List bullet icon Make faces with food — Dice different fruits and vegetables into various sizes and arrange them into faces. You could have blueberry eyes, a bell pepper mouth and spaghetti squash hair — the options are endless!
List bullet icon Create your own fruit salad — Take your child to the food store and let them choose different fruits that they may want to try. When you get home, slice up some of the fruit and have your child build their own salad. Help them name the colors and types of fruit and talk about what each one feels like and smells like and what it may taste like.
List bullet icon Assemble rainbow kabobs — Show your child how to assemble a kabob. Let them choose the fruit they want to add to the skewer and watch what they create! See if they can make a pattern or if they can sequence the fruit by size. (Can you put the biggest fruit at the bottom of the skewer and the smallest at the top?)
List bullet icon Stack fruit —Grab a couple bowls, set out different types of fruit and see who can fill their bowl up with the most fruit. Ask your child a question like do you think you can fit more blueberries or more strawberries in your bowl? Then your child can count how many pieces of fruit you each had in your bowls.
List bullet icon Make art — Use fruits and veggies as brushes to make beautiful food art! Berries can be squished to make a lovely red or blue color and potatoes can become stamps when sliced in half and dipped in non-toxic ink. Let your imagination drive your food creations!

Make a Splash

How can your child enjoy the water safely and away from the crowds? Bring a small inflatable pool and fill it with lake or beach water to create a small splashing pool. Under your close watch, your child will enjoy the water safely, and with their favorite water toys! When you’re ready to go, just drain the pool and flatten it for easy transportation.

Backyard Water Fun

Try out some of these easy, engaging ideas to beat the end-of-summer heat!

List bullet icon Throw a sprinkler splashdown in your yard and see who can stay the driest the longest. It’s a game no one can win! Or crank up the jams and have a dance party around the sprinkler.
List bullet icon Inflate a kiddie pool and get ready to cool down! The pool should be an appropriate size for your child, and if the water is too warm, add some ice cubes and see how quickly they melt!
List bullet icon Practice counting with your child using bubbles—blow as many bubbles as possible in a minute.
List bullet icon Wet a giant sponge and practice playing catch. If your child enjoys it, add a second sponge and see if you can make them collide mid-air.

Win the Sunscreen Struggle

Has applying your child's sunscreen this summer been a battle? Make it fun and claim victory!

List bullet icon Squeeze sunscreen in a large water bottle and store it in a cooler. Application is more fun, and your sunscreen is less likely to spill.
List bullet icon Make a train of friends and family to apply that sunscreen like a sunscreen choo-choo train—“You sunscreen my back and I’ll sunscreen yours!”
List bullet icon Play your children's favorite music to take their minds off the sunscreen application and encourage them to sing along.
List bullet icon Try to find an odorless sunscreen. Sometimes, the chemical smell that some sunscreens emit may trigger a feeling of sensory overload, which is why children may resist sunscreen application.
List bullet icon A final tip: take your time applying sunscreen. By going at a child’s pace, you’ll make the experience more pleasant for them and less stressful for everyone.

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