Saturday, May 14, 2022

5 Tips for Connecting Books with Summer Fun

It’s summer and it is tempting to set aside books for more hands-on activities, but why not explore those activities more deeply by connecting books with summer adventures like planting a garden, exploring science in the kitchen, becoming an inventor, going to a national park, or visiting a zoo?                                                                                                  

Discover book titles to go with each of these activities here on my blog in the summer series I am creating with Kristen Wilkinson, guest blogger and Program Director for the Colorado State University Environmental Learning Center, an environmental education outreach center in Northern Colorado for children and adults. She will be joining us throughout the summer with tips and book reviews.

Kristen and I started by creating the 5 Tips which we will expand on throughout the summer. They may be downloaded in a FREE PDF on my website at where more free PDFs may be found on my page for Parent Resources. If you are an educator, consider sending the PDF or the link home with students to promote summer reading and be sure to check out my page for Teacher Resources.


1. Plant a Garden– Plant zucchini in a reusable shopping bag on an apartment balcony or build a fence trellis with old bicycle wheels for climbing cucumbers. Explore these ideas and more with step-by-step directions and photographs in Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet: Inventive Ideas for Growing Food in a Small Space by DK Publishing. You may want to participate in a group garden like the main character in Miguel’s Community Garden written by JaNay Brown-Wood and illustrated by Samara Hardy. It’s ideal for ages 3-7. Maybe you’d just like to visit a community garden or attend a local Grower’s Market. For further exploration, SciShow Kids has YouTube episodes on How Does a Seed Become a Plant? and Grow Your Own Plants!

2. Explore Science in the Kitchen – Use those healthy foods you grew in your garden or bought at the Grower’s Market and have fun cooking. Take your culinary adventure one step further by learning the chemical properties of food. Make a science experiment out of the process with Science Experiments You Can Eat (Revised and Updated) written by Vicki Cobb and illustrated by Tad Carpenter. It is perfect for ages 8 and up. SciShow Kids also has a whole series on cooking with science: Baking a Cake with Science, How to Build a Solar Oven, and Why Does Cooking Eggs Make Them Hard?

3. Become an Inventor – Read about real-life inventors in books like Franz’s Phantasmagorical Machine written by Beth Anderson and illustrated by Caroline Hamel. Many items around the house can be used with the suggestions outlined by Temple Grandin in Calling All Minds: How to Think and Create Like an Inventor. If your kids have ideas for inventions that are a little too complicated or dangerous to try at home, send their designs to Kids Invent Stuff The website links to the YouTube channel where you can watch the engineer hosts, Ruth and Shawn, build the inventions of kids ages 4-11. They even offer prizes. Even if your kid’s invention idea is not selected, that’s okay. Submitting a written description along with a video or drawing is a great way to promote summer writing and creative thinking.

4. Visit a National Park  – If you aren’t able to take a big trip, go on a nature walk, visit a local natural area, or take a virtual trip through nature by watching America’s National Parks by National Geographic (Disney+) or Born in the Rockies by Nature (PBS) Either way, start your journey by reading books like National Parks of the U.S.A. written by Kate Siber and illustrated by Chris Turnham or Grand Canyon written and illustrated by Jason Chin. These books can be read aloud to young children or explored on their own by kids ages 7 and up. They are also great resources for adults.

5. Visit a Zoo or Wild Animal Park – If you don’t have one nearby, watch shows like Animals with Cameras by Nature (PBS). Read about the fascinating world of wild animals in books like Make Way for Animals!: A World of Wildlife Crossings written by Meeg Pincus and illustrated by Bao Luu and discover real-life animal heroes in 125 Animals That Changed the World by Brenna Maloney. Read more about wildlife crossings at

Don’t forget to visit your local library or bookstore to find more fun books and ask about their summer reading programs while you are there.

Watch for more book titles and tips including activities for Real-World Writing by following this blog. Sign up for my newsletter HERE to receive the free writing template for Travel Trouble.


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