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Mommy on a Shoestring: Summer fun with a twist

Have fun, make memories and keep your children’s school skills sharp with these summer enrichment activities.

Poetry Blocks

I love this activity that takes playing with words to a new level. It was inspired by the Edmonton Poetry Festival, which created large-scale poetry blocks for Edmonton’s town square.

You need:

Sturdy boxes (any size)

Paint

Alphabet stickers

Directions:

Paint boxes as desired, allow time to dry.

Add words with alphabet stickers (or paint). Be sure to include a variety of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjective and adverbs.

When blocks are complete, encourage your kids to play as they build poems, phrases and funny expressions.

Baseball Scorecards

Turn our national pastime into an introduction to statistics. Go to www.baseballscorecard.com to download your FREE scorecards. There, you will also find a quick and easy tutorial on how to use the cards. Then it’s your kids’ turn.

Bring the scorecards to your next baseball game and encourage your children to track the players throughout the game. It’s a great activity for siblings who attend each other games and a fun way to keep everyone happy and engaged (even in extra innings).

Be sure to check out the Kane County Cougars, which is an affiliate team of the Chicago Cubs. Based in Geneva, Ill., the Cougars offer family friendly entertainment at affordable prices (and the $5 parking fee is hard to beat). For more information visit www.milb.com.

Family Color Walk

I love this activity that comes courtesy of Kerry Finnegan, director of the Gardner School in Naperville (www.thegardnerschool.com). First, visit to your local hardware store and collect paint samples. Then, take your children on a “color walk,” where they match the colors from the samples to real items they see in nature. Not only will this activity improve your children’s color recognition skills, but it will also help them learn how to classify objects in small groups.

Summer Reading Bingo

Keep your children’s reading skills strong by encouraging them to read all summer long. Not only will it help prevent “reading skill loss,” but it shows your kids that reading is a fundamental part of everyday life.

To add a fun twist, download the FREE Bingo Card created by the folks at Open Books, which is a non-profit bookstore that uses its proceeds to fund literacy programs. The Bingo card is comprised of open-ended reading missions that you can create. Or, visit Chicago’s River North Open Books store, 213 W. Institute Place, Chicago, for the official Open Books Summer Reading Bingo Challenge card which, when completed gets your children one step closer to earning free books. For more information and to download your FREE Bingo Card visit www.open-books.org.

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