Summer Fun Toolkit: Animal Research Writing

One of my favorite blogs is Mrs. Clancy’s Joyful Learning in KC. She does writing workshops with her kindergarteners and provides templates on her site. That way you can help your budding writers at home.

I’ve been using some of Ms. Clancy’s ideas to harness Cooper’s curiosity and keep his writing skills up to snuff this summer. Right now he is working on Animal Research Writing. His book is called BLACK JAGUARS. Here is his first page.



Book Review: Cows on the Family Farm

TITLE: COWS ON THE FAMILY FARM (Animals on the Family Farm Series)

AUTHOR: Chana Stiefel

PUBLICATION INFO: Enslow Elementary, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7660-4205-6

SOURCE: publisher provided copy

INTENDED AUDIENCE: interest level = K-3rd grade (publisher), reading level 2.6

GENRE: nonfiction


“Wow! Cows! Did you know that a cow eats 50 pounds of grass each day? That’s the weight of an average second grader!”

From the book cover:

“Welcome to the family farm! How do the farmers take care of the cows? What do cows eat? Follow the family at Howling Wolf Farm as they show the important steps in raising healthy animals and healthy food for the people in their community.”

THEMES/TOPICS: animals, nature, farming

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: This story is as much about the farm and the farmers as it is about cows. Stiefel shows children where their food comes from, using her engaging, kid-appropriate writing style to draw in young readers. Children will learn about animals and sustainable farming. The text includes important elements that help children understand the text, including a table of contents, words to know, and a labeled diagram of a cow. A perfect activity to accompany the book would be a trip to the local Farmer’s Market.

Summer Fun Toolkit: Sight Word Bingo

My kids love Bingo, especially if we use Goldfish, M&Ms or another tasty treat for our markers. I made Bingo cards from Cooper’s Kindergarten sight words, so he can keep up with them all summer long.

Click on the photo below to print out the cards. Make sure to print an extra sheet, cut out the pieces and put them in a bag or bowl to draw from.


You can also build up your child’s repertoire of sight words through DK’s Silly Sentences game, for ages 4 through 7. It’s currently Finley’s favorite game. We play it almost every day.

Summer Fun Toolkit: Reading Logs

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll post some favorite activities and games for keeping skills sharp over the summer months. Researchers have shown that “summer brain drain” is a big issue for children, especially for lower-income kids. Teachers have to spend weeks each school year getting kids back to their pre-summer skill levels. There are lots of fun ways to stave off “summer brain drain.”

During summer break, we continue to make time every day for reading. Cooper and Finley have a mandatory hour of “rest time” in the afternoon. They can play quietly or read books. At bedtime, they each read to me, and I read to them. Every time they finish a book, they get to log it in their Brilliant Reader Log Book.

Brilliant Reader

I found these books at the dollar bin at Target a few weeks ago. For each book, kids get to write about their favorite characters and the best part of the book. There is space to draw a favorite scene. Then kids get to assign the book from one to ten stars. For my soon-to-be first-grader, the log doubles as handwriting practice.

How do you encourage summer reading? Does everyone in your house have mandatory reading time?

First Fruits


Picking juicy, ripe fruit is a beloved summer and fall activity. We’ve just enjoyed our first cherries of the season from our local “u-pick” orchards. We picked at least eight and a half pounds, and I think I have a good 3 hours of pitting ahead of me. Pie and preserves are on the way. What’s your favorite summertime fruit? Do you have any recipes to share?