Whether you are just trying to stay afloat until the end of the school year or you’re gearing up for summer therapy, I have two of my favorite summer-themed books that would be a great addition to your library. Summer means something a little different to everyone but to me it means hanging out with family and friends, lots of sunshine, ice cream, swimming, time off work and school, cookouts, and much longer days! Below are just a couple fun books with activities that will keep your students engaged while they get to enjoy what summer means to them!
Former third grader, Mortimer Henryson loves the class plant, Plantzilla. He loves Plantzilla so much that he begs his teacher, Mr. Lester, to bring him home for the summer. Throughout the book, you will see Mortimer’s love and the care he gives Plantzilla along with his parents’ concerns when Plantzilla begins to become more human-like. If you love this book, I recommend the next book in the series called Plantzilla Goes to Camp to follow along with your summer-theme. Below are activities that can be carried out alongside Plantzilla and Plantzilla Goes to Camp to encourage meaningful learning experiences and motivating critical thinking during those long summer days.
Throughout the book, we see letters being exchanged between Mortimer, his parents, and Mr. Lester which gives us the perfect opportunity to write our own letters whether as a group or individually. For our students with receptive and expressive language impairments, writing is difficult and overwhelming. I strongly encourage you to incorporate more writing into your practice! This activity will be a great way to target inferencing, answering and asking -wh questions, problem solving, and sequencing.
The first question I would ask myself is, what pre-teaching activities do I need to initiate prior to introducing this writing activity? Plantzilla is obviously about plants and the love and care Mortimer has put into it. Youtube is a great place to find some quick pre-teaching videos that can turn into discussions to allow you to assess what your student already knows and to support them on what they do not. This video and this one in particular are ones that I’ve enjoyed using in the past. They are informative, short, and engaging for my students.
After pre-teaching, the next step is to break down the writing into different segments – address, greeting, message (body), the sign off, and the envelope. If you choose to do this as a group or individual activity, it is important to explain each segment to your students and the importance of having those segments. I especially like to explain what happens if a segment is missing. For example, if the address or the name of the person is missing on the envelope, how does the post office know where or who to send it to?
Jabari finished his swimming lessons and passed his swimming test…so why doesn’t he feel ready to jump off the diving board yet? This is a story about overcoming your own fears and how to be patient and encouraging towards others. It is an awesome addition to your summer-themed books and I highly recommend using my story sidekick as a companion to transform the way you engage with your students. Alongside the story sidekick, below are some fun activities to assist in expanding on your students’ learning.
Using a small bag or a cut out of a beach bag, have your students pack what they will need (or might not need!) for a trip to the beach or pool. For my articulation students, I will put pictures or mini objects inside a box or bag that they can’t see into and have them pull them out to place in or on their bag. My students enjoy the comical and random things that they have packed in their bag. For my language students, using picture cards or mini objects, this is a great activity to target answering/asking -wh questions, inferring, problem-solving, and comparing and contrasting.