Summer literacy activitiy: Field trips of knowledge

Everyday summer activities offer excellent opportunities for increasing a child’s background knowledge; and, there’s an abundance of research supporting the importance of varied and strong background information on future learning success. It just makes sense: the more a child learns in real life, the more he’ll carry into a classroom-learning environment. So, what’s the best prescription for building background knowledge this summer? Simply enjoy a full summer: Play in the park, visit the zoo, watch a baseball game, thrill to the roller coasters at a theme park or go on a nature walk.

In other words, do all the fun stuff you’d normally do, but reinforce the importance of those activities by taking note.

1. As you walk, ride, swim or watch, talk about it. Ask questions. Discuss the science behind the roller coaster, the white fur on a polar bear at the zoo, the insects buzzing all around your picnic.

2. Make notes in a question/answer book either during or after the activity. Illustrate the sites you’ve visited. Press flowers within the pages and write descriptions of the events surrounding the day.

3. Take your experiences a step further by visiting your local bookstore, library or even educational website to find information on the field trips you’re about to take or the ones you’ve already taken. A physics book on roller coasters, a story about visiting the ocean, a rulebook on the ins and outs of baseball or a graphic novel about Abe Lincoln will seem all the more relevant when combined with a field trip.

By coupling a book with an actual summer experience, you are reinforcing the importance of the activity, leaving a concrete reminder for when the subject is introduced within the classroom environment.

Next up in the Summer Literacy Series: A Photographer Remembers

Note: This activity provides practice in mastering skills included in Florida’s Reading/Language Arts State Standards. For more on Florida’s Sunshine State Standards:
© 2007-2009 Cheryl Vanatti for
Review also posted as National Reading Examiner.

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