Summer Reading: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Summer Reading: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly | Red Apple ReadingOnce again the school year has flown by and summer is upon us. Many parents are thrilled for your kids to have some down time, but don’t relish the fight against television, video games, and social media. For me, summer reading has always been an important key to adding some loose structure to the break. However, reading can create mixed feelings in our kiddos: some are good, some are bad, and some are just plain ugly!

Summer reading is important and can be enjoyable if you present it the right way to your children. If you’re looking for some fun ways to implement reading into your kid’s summer break, Red Apple Reading invites you to try some of the following suggestions!

  • Scavenger Hunt – At the beginning of the summer plan a weekly scavenger hunt at your local library. For instance, the first week have your child search for a book about animals. The next week look for a mystery story. By planning a hunt with different genres each week, you can turn reading into an adventure!
  • Reading Rewards – Have your kid “purchase” technology time, swimming time, or ice cream dates. Don’t worry – this isn’t a shady scheme to make a little side money! Kids earn these prizes by reading! You decide how it works. Perhaps 1 hour of reading earns 20 minutes of television or 1 chapter book earns a trip to a fast food restaurant.
  • Family Reading – At the beginning of the summer, pick a book that the entire family can enjoy. Spend half an hour each day reading the story aloud to everyone. You’ll be surprised how much you and the children look forward to this daily activity!
  • Book Surprise – The first day of summer break present the kids with a surprise gift basket full of new books. These don’t have to be brand new titles; you can visit thrift stores and second hand shops to purchase “new to you” books.
  • Technology Temptation – If your kid is tech savvy, then take advantage of that passion and tempt them with technology! Allow your child to engage in reading in ways that don’t involve traditional books. For instance, did you know Red Apple Reading offers a bi-monthly e-magazine for kids and parents? Check it out today 
  • Mystery Book Basket – We love this fun idea from Inner Child Fun. Similar to “Blind Date with a Book”, this kid friendly version will add a little mystery to their book choice!
  • Library Programs – Most public libraries have summer reading programs for children. These programs encourage summer reading through fun programs, activities and prizes. This year’s Collaborative Summer Library Program theme is On Your Mark, Get Set…Read!
  • Book + Activity – Does your little one love a good craft or project? If so, combine her love of creativity with reading. Come up with a craft to make to go along with a book she is reading. Don’t worry if you’re not the creative type! A quick perusal of Pinterest will offer an abundance of ideas!

Be prepared to offer your kids a summer full of reading fun! With a little forethought and planning, you can experience all the good of summer reading and (hopefully!) avoid the bad and the ugly!


Teaching While You Travel: Making the Most of Your Road Trip!

Teaching While You Travel - Red Apple ReadingAre you planning a family trip this summer that involves long hours in the car? Everyone loves a vacation, but the actual road trip itself can be tedious – especially for families with small children! Do you wish you had a dollar for every time a child asks, “How much longer?” Is it possible for a Mom and Dad to arrive at their destination with their sanity intact? If you’re looking for ways to keep your children entertained on your approaching car trip, then look no further! Red Apple Reading has some tips for not only keeping your kiddo entertained but also intellectually stimulated during your upcoming road trip!

  • License Plate Game – This oldie but goodie never fails to please! Have children search for license plates from as many states as possible while on the road. If you want to add a little extra geography boost, print out maps and let kids color in the states as they find them!
  • Audio Books – Before leaving for your trip borrow some audio books to listen to as you travel. Many children’s books are quite compelling and are fun for adults to listen to as well! One of my favorite children’s authors is Andrew Clements. See what you can find at your local public library!
  • Math Fact Fun – If your little one is learning her multiplication tables, then a long road trip provides the perfect opportunity to practice. Take advantage of the extra time together and quiz your kiddo on her math facts as you travel. Perhaps you could even reward progress with a milkshake or other treat!
  • Road Reading – A car trip is filled with opportunities to read along the way! If you have beginning readers challenge them to spot words on street signs, billboards, and buildings. The kids will enjoy shouting out their finds and you will enjoy the progress they make with their reading!
  • Keep Little Fingers Busy – We all remember how tempting it is to poke, pinch, and prod siblings on a road trip. Avoid hearing the backseat mantra, “He’s touching me!” by keeping those little fingers busy! Before leaving on your trip find some shoelaces and cut up several straws. Little ones can thread the straw pieces onto the shoestring, take them off, and do it again. This simple activity will keep the kiddos out of trouble and help develop crucial fine motor skills! Check this out on Knoala!
  • Memory/Alphabet Game – Help sharpen memory and letter skills with this fun road trip game. Someone in the car begins the game by saying, “I’m going on a road trip and I’m bringing________”. The first person fills in the blank with something that starts with the letter A. The next person repeats the first person’s item, and adds something that begins with a B. The game goes on until your list goes all the way to Z!

We hope these suggestions make your next car trip a little less stressful! We would love to hear what your family does to pass the time while traveling. Leave a comment below with your best ideas for keeping kids entertained on the road!

Beat the Heat with Outdoor Water Fun!

Beat the Heat with Outdoor Water Fun!

Summer is in full swing! Hopefully you aren’t already hearing the dreaded phrase, “I don’t have anything to do!” But in case you have, Red Apple Reading is coming to the rescue! Here’s a list of 10 outdoor water activities we’ve found on the web that will not only help your little one beat the heat, but will keep her entertained as well! And you know what we like best about these activities? They are super simple!


  1. Make Your Own Mini Water Blob – Who knew you could make one of these yourself? They look like a lot of fun and if you spray them with the water hose the kiddos can slide on them. Check it out on Hello, Wonderful!
  2. Ice Cube PaintingPaging Fun Mums has a super simple idea for summer fun. The best part is you probably already have all the ingredients on hand! The night before you plan to do this activity, get out the ice cube trays and food coloring and create some colorful cubes!
  3. Water Gun Painting – This activity is along the same lines as the ice cube painting. Mix up your tempera paint and water and let the kids shoot a masterpiece. Thanks Somewhat Simple!
  4. Sponge Water Bombs – This great outdoor activity is from Positively Splendid. I made these for my kiddos last summer and they really enjoyed them! If you have older kids they could make these on their own. All that’s needed are kitchen sponges, scissors and fishing line. Bombs away!
  5. Tin Foil River – I love this idea of creating a homemade river in the backyard. Pick up a roll of heavy duty aluminum foil next time you’re at the grocery and you and the kids will be ready for construction. Check it out on Frugal Fun for Boys.
  6. Water Balloon Piñatas – Keep your kiddos cool this summer with this fun take on the traditional piñata. Visit Ziggity Zoom for easy instructions.
  7. Sponge DartsThe Seasoned Mom has come up with a great outdoor game that they’ve dubbed Sponge Darts. Have the kids draw a bulls eye using sidewalk chalk, soak some sponges, and then take aim!
  8. Pool Noodle Sprinkler – Here’s another good one from Ziggity Zoom – a simple to construct pool noodle sprinkler! It’s as easy as running a water hose into a pool noodle that’s been punched full of holes. You’ll definitely want to try this one!
  9. Excavating Toys from Ice – If you have an aspiring archaeologist in the family, he or she will love this activity. Freeze those tiny toys you’re always stepping on in a sheet of ice and let your little one begin the excavation process. Learn more on Chasing Cheerios.
  10. Pretend Play Clothesline – Let your little one participate in pretend play and sharpen her fine motor skills at the same time. You’ll need a low hanging clothesline, a bucket of water filled with washcloths, and several clothespins. Thanks Play Create Explore for this fun idea!

What does your family do to beat the heat during the summer months? We’d love to hear your ideas! Leave us a comment below and share your suggestions.

Help Your Child Avoid the Summer Slump

Help Your Child Avoid the Summer SlumpReady or not, another summer season is upon us! For months children have dreamed of an extended break from the structured school schedule. While summer is a wonderful time to decompress, parents need to be mindful of the phenomenon that has become known as the summer slump. The result of not receiving enough educational stimulation over the summer months, the slump often leads to a loss of previously acquired education. What can parents do to avoid this reversal of learning? Red Apple Reading has some tips to help your child beat the summer slump!

Keep Reading – One of the most important things that parents can do to fight the summer slump is to continue to read to and encourage their children to read over break.

  • Make sure that your kiddos have plenty of reading material as well as a designated time set aside each day for reading.
  • We can’t sing the praises of the local public library loudly enough! Take advantage of the free reading material available for borrowing as well as the summer reading programs that are offered.
  • Start a summer book club. Have your kiddo and her friends pick 3 or 4 books to read together over the summer. Once every couple of weeks, come together to discuss and enjoy refreshments.

Monitor Screen Time – When left to their own devices, kids will not always choose the best video games to play or television shows to watch.

  • Limit Screen Time – Carefully monitor children’s screen time during the summer to ensure that an excessive amount of time is not being idly spent.
  • Encourage Wise Choices – When your little one does have permission to use electronics, encourage him to choose shows and games that are educational in nature. Check out Red Apple Reading’s online reading software for free!

Review Math Facts – As frustrating as it can be to review math facts with our kids over the summer months, the payoff for them when school resumes will be huge.

  • Check out online reviews – There are several really great websites out there that will help your kiddo avoid a summer math slump. Quizlet and Greg Tang Math are just a couple of quality sites that you should check out.
  • Make Flash Cards – The old fashioned flash card still does the job when it comes to memorizing multiplication and division facts. After several rounds of quizzing, pull out the ones your child is consistently getting wrong and focus solely on those.

Maintain Structure – A flexible schedule will ensure that your child is getting plenty of rest and spending a good portion of her day productively.

  • Set reasonable bed times – Your kid may not have to attend school the next day, but she still needs plenty of rest. Don’t throw bedtime out just because summer has arrived.
  • Make sure that your kiddo is not spending large portions of his day in mindless activity. Chores, learning activities, reading, and outdoor play should be incorporated into the daily schedule.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with your child having a break from the rigors of everyday school. Like us, kids need down time to relax and recharge their batteries. Just be mindful of the brain drain that can occur over the summer months and incorporate a reasonable amount of learning and structure into the break!


Educational Summer Fun

Educational Summer Fun - Red Apple ReadingSummer doesn’t officially begin until June 21st, but with Memorial Day now behind us it feels like summer has already begun. If you’re like me you have mixed feelings about summertime. While I’m happy that the kids have a break from school, I cringe at the idea of them sitting around watching television and playing video games for two months! That’s why I attempt to have some fun educational activities for them to do throughout the season. A quick perusal of the internet reveals an endless variety of ideas for fun summer learning. Here are some of our favorites!


  • Summer Reading Programs – Most public libraries offer summer reading programs for their younger visitors. Many times these involve a theme, prizes, and weekly activities. The CSLP’s (Collaborative Summer Library Program) 2015 summer reading theme is Heroes. Check your local library to see if they are using this theme or one of their own choosing.
  • Take a Hike! – Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors with your kiddos! Whether you are exploring your own backyard or a local trail in your area, the possibilities for having fun and learning are endless. Have your child carry a small notebook with him or her and record the different creatures he or she spots. If your little one can’t write yet, have her draw a picture of her nature finds.
  • Library Scavenger Hunt – I love this take on the scavenger hunt from What Do We Do All Day. Kids will have fun as they explore their local library looking for answers to each clue. Just remind them to keep the volume down as they hunt – nobody wants to get that disapproving look from the librarian.  😉
  • Water Balloon Sight Words – Check out this fun water game from Royal Baloo. If your kiddos are complaining about the heat, this is a perfect way to cool off and practice sight words at the same time! You could also use this to review math facts. I’m definitely trying this out with my 6-year-old this summer!
  • Red Apple Reading – We think you and your little one will love Red Apple Reading. Our award winning, online reading program is not only educational but is also fun to play. Check it out for free! You’ll want to have this affordable and entertaining educational resource this summer.

Kids love summertime! It’s a great opportunity for them to decompress after the hectic school season, but be sure to include some educational activities to keep them sharp while they are out of school. Remember, a vacation from school should never be a vacation from learning!