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Summertime projects can enhance reading, writing skills

May 04, 2001

Summertime projects can enhance reading, writing skills

Teaching your child | By Lisa Tedrick Prejean

Summertime projectsPhoto: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

How can you keep a young teen reading over the summer?

Visit a craft store.

Reading directions to make a project will keep the creator focused on comprehension skills, says Melanie Geer, a teacher at Western Heights Middle School in Hagerstown.

"If they did that at home - crafts - it enhances reading to perform a task skills," Geer says.

Geer's students recently made hanging fish, a project from Seasonal Arts and Crafts, a Macmillan Instant Activities Program.

Here's how:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Fold a piece of paper in half lengthwise.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Draw half of a fish shape along the fold.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Pencil in a curve 1/2-inch inside the fish pattern, following the outline of the fish.


HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Draw vertical lines 1/2-inch apart from the fold to the pencil line.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Cut out the outline of the fish.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Cut along the ruled lines.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Unfold and bend every other strip backward.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> With markers or crayons, draw details on both sides of the fish. Then hang it up with a string.

Andrew Repp, 13, says he enjoyed the project.

"It makes school like more fun," Andrew says.

Kids enjoy seeing a finished product they've made by following directions, says Julee Pensinger Neikirk, literacy resource teacher at Western Heights Middle School.

For other ideas, check out craft books from the library.

Journal writing is another good summertime project to enhance reading and writing skills, Neikirk says.

Encourage your teen to write at least a half page every day. Once they develop the habit of writing in a journal, they tend to write more, Neikirk says.

To avoid writers' block, suggest topics such as these:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> "If I were an airplane ..."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> "When I was little, I used to ..."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> "When I make my robot, it will ..."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> "If I were a frog ..."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> "When I write a book, it will be ..."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> "If I were president ..."

Here are some other ideas from Neikirk:

* Make a mobile based on a book. Ask your child to draw pictures that depict something in the story. Tie them to a hanger with various lengths of string.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Start a neighborhood library. Set a time for a book share each week. Have a central location for kids to put books they've already read.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Write a story that continues throughout the summer. Add to it each day.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Dress up as your favorite character and act out their part of the story.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Write a play or a skit and videotape each other acting it out.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Create a diorama, a miniature scene depicting figures in a natural setting. This can be made in a shoebox, using plastic figures and sand, grass or carpet fragments.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Choose a novel to go with a movie or short story on public television. Talk about the similarities and the differences in both.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> If you're going on vacation this summer, encourage your teen to do some research about your destination. What would he like to see there?

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