This is a sponsored post for which I’ve received free product and/or compensation, but the opinions are 100% my own.
Want to get your kids really excited about summer reading and keep them active all season long? Take their favorite book and turn it into a literary adventure! It’s not as hard as it sounds, I promise. In fact, these ideas can all be done in your own backyard (or nearby park, if you’re a city dweller) without many supplies. All you really need is a little time, a great imagination and a story to spark the activity.
Literary Adventures in Your Own Backyard
As a single work-at-home-mom, I like easy activities. Spontaneous activities. You know, the kind you don’t have to buy weird things, like a flux capacitor, to complete. I don’t have a craft supply closet or a magical playtime work station. I barely even have a craft supply plastic bag and a magical playtime end table! What I do have is a kid, a backyard, a ton of cool books and a passion for literacy. Let me show you how that’s enough for some crazy-fun adventures this summer.
A Magical Adventure for Your Young Wizard
Like many kids his age, Jacob recently got really excited about a certain series involving wizards and a magical school. Now, he’s branching off into other magical adventures. These types of stories are actually among the easiest when it comes to creating literary adventures in your backyard. Every wizard needs one very important thing: a magic wand. What are wands made of? Different types of wood, right? What’s in your backyard? If it’s anything like mine, plenty of fallen branches. Do you see where this is going?
For this activity, you and your child are going to make magic wands. Why? Well, as it turns out, he is secretly a wizard himself! In fact, he’s just been accepted into the local wizard academy (you can get really creative here and write up a fancy “acceptance” letter for him if you want, or just use your “proclamation voice” to give him the big announcement). The academy has a strict rule, though: every child must create his or her own magic wand.
Search your yard for the perfect fallen “wand branch” together. Once you find it, use other natural items (like small stones, leaves, flowers, etc.) or craft supplies that you have on hand (paint, markers, glue and foam pieces, and so on) to decorate the wand. If you want to get super fancy, you can sand it down with a bit of sand paper. Depending on the age of your child, you can either help him out with his wand or make your own along with him.
Take this literary adventure a step further by learning about the different trees in your backyard as you search for the perfect branch. You’ll need to do a little research beforehand, but it’s a cool way to inject a little nature lesson into the activity. My son always retains information better when he’s having fun while learning.
Greek Mythology Star Gazing
Stories about Greek and Roman myths are all the rage right now, especially for middle-grade kids. Take that passion, combine it with your child’s natural curiosity about outer space and use it as an astronomy lesson. Many of the constellations are named after Greek and Roman myths. Grab a blanket and your child, then lay under the sky on a clear night.
Use a star chart book or a free smartphone app to help you find the different constellations. If you have a telescope, go ahead and use it. If not, just try to find the ones that are visible to the naked eye. Trust me, there are more than you may think! As you find them, compare notes together about the actual myth (brush up beforehand, and come up with your own kid-friendly way to discuss them) versus the version in his favorite myth-inspired story.
Countless books for middle-graders center on a hunt for an elusive treasure, an epic quest if you will. It makes sense if you think about it. Quests are really about discovering what you’re made of, something that kids in the “tween” age-group understand all too well. Send your middle-grader on his own epic quest in your backyard.
For this literary adventure, you’ll need to do a little prep work without your child (tell him no peeking!). Start by burying or hiding some sort of treasure. If you do this days ahead of time, make sure you put it in something that can survive those surprise summer rain storms. This should probably go without saying, but you also want to make it animal-proof. Hey, I had a treasure hunt ruined by some thieving squirrels once, so I figure I should mention it!
Every good treasure hunt needs a map. For the easy version, just use paper and a pencil. If you want to get really fancy, dip heavy card-stock paper in coffee or tea to give it an aged look, let it dry, then draw your map. Use clues from his favorite book, landmarks in your yard or just about anything your imagination comes up with to create his quest. You can also use a GPS tool, like the kind you use for Geocaching, to turn it into a lesson about map coordinates. When you’re done, send him off on his adventure!
L’il Critters™ for L’il Adventurers
Whatever adventures your children embark on this summer, keep them moving forward in their explorations by making sure they’re getting all their essential nutrients. I help fuel Jacob’s adventures with L’il Critters™, the #1 Kids Gummy Vitamin Brand. We’ve been using L’il Critters™ since Jake was an itty bitty critter himself. Since he’s such a picky kid, I’ve always added supplements to his daily regimen to make sure he’s getting all the minerals and vitamins that he needs.
Jacob loves gummies, so L’il Critters™ is the perfect fit for him. They’ve been around since 1998, and in our household since around 2009. Jake loves that they taste great. I love that they are made with naturally sourced fruit flavors and colors. Our backyard literary adventures help encourage a healthy love of literature. L’il Critters™ helps encourage a lifetime of other healthy habits!
I usually buy my L’il Critters™ at Walmart or Target, but you can also find them at other mass retailers, drug stores like Walgreens and grocery stores and Costco. Visit gummyvites.com to learn more and find a store near you.
I bet you can come up with more great literary adventures to have right in your own backyard. Just open a book and open your mind! The key is to take the themes from the story and spin them in imaginative new ways. You don’t have to recreate the book itself, or even scenes from it. In fact, it’s almost better if you don’t. That way, your child is in control of the story.
I’d love to hear about your literary adventures! Tell me what activities you and your child do together to really encourage a love of reading!