Summer Reading Camp Day 3

So day three. We stuck to the original format for the hour long session as outlined here.

Story telling session: I read a Brother’s Grimm tale from ’50 Princess Stories’ called ‘The old woman in the wood.’ While I admit that princess stories are generally a great hit with girls, I TRY to look for plot lines that are more than just ‘damsels-in-distress-waiting-to-be-rescued’ narratives. OK maybe ONCE in a silly while it’s fine, but GENERALLY I consciously choose tales that have strong and independent female protagonists. Elsa, Anna and Merida over Snow White, Aurora and Belle ANYDAY. (For the uninitiated, those are the fabled Disney princesses; though I can’t see how anyone could miss that, even if they hadn’t watched the movies- EVERY single stationary or toy store literally SCREAMS at my daughter with their images.)

So even though this book offers me FIFTY story options to choose from, I still sift through them to select what I consider appropriate for her. I have an inquisitive sort of a kid (actually, who doesn’t?) and she keeps asking me questions about the plots and characters of the stories she likes, LONG after I have read them to her; so I figured, if she must ruminate over certain character traits anyway, why not let her ponder over themes of  bravery, grit, kindness OR strength too? (I would be hard pressed to find a character who had ALL those traits rolled in one!) And of course, the story should be entertaining too. That’s IMPORTANT or else I risk losing her attention completely.

This particular book has stories sorted under 5 themes: The Fairest of them all, Enchanting adventures, Gallant Girls and Brave Lasses, From Rags to Riches and Happily Ever After.

Generally I like to read stories from the ‘Gallant girls and Brave Lasses’ section, but this selected tale was from the ‘Rags to Riches’ one. The princess in this one was not particularly brave or resourceful, I will admit, but I picked it nevertheless simply because it sounded fun and well, it was a Brothers Grimm tale 🙂

Since it was day 3 of the ‘Camp’ already, some of the girls were opening up for a mini discussion after the story was read. Please bear in mind, English is not our first language, so sometimes it takes time for kids to make sense of the themes. Discussions, however brief, do help in comprehension.


We then did our 15 minutes of independent reading. I could already see a difference in the girls’ fluency levels. My daughter, for one, really wanted the ‘most number of stars’ against her name on the wall, so she put in more effort to read as many pages she could in the slot.

Finally we then did an literacy activity adopted from here on I fished out my daughter’s plastic bowling pin set, my friend Janina made cards with words on them and we stuck those ‘words’ on the pins. The girls took turns trying to knock down the pins with the ball, but they only got the ‘points’ when they successfully read the word on each of their fallen pins.

We put words with long vowels: ‘ea’, ‘oo’, ‘oa’, ‘ea’ and ‘ai’




Summer Reading Camp Day 2


Dramatic story telling: I have this collection of 50 silly stories from the Miles Kelly collection. It’s full of folk tales and popular fairy tales and what not. So I read them ‘How the dragon was tricked’ by Andrew Lang. It’s funny and has a plot that moves fast. The kids enjoyed listening about the trickster’s cunning.




We then followed it by the ‘Independent reading’ session. You don’t usually see a bunch of six year olds sit together and do nothing but read. Kids these days would much rather be plonked in front of some electronic device. This seemed like a refreshing change. 🙂


I then did this activity from Basically I printed out written drawing instructions and asked each kid to draw/color the picture according to what their blurb asked them to. I thought it would be rather simple, but no. Six year olds have a mind of their own and well, ‘sticking-to-the-plot’ isn’t really their forte 😛 Not just that, I realized how much the kids tend to just skim through what they read. So when the instruction clearly said ‘Draw TEN stars in your sky’, my daughter just drew 5 or so. When I pointed that out to her, she was like, “Oh! I didn’t read the ‘TEN'”.  *insert mommy’s exaggerated eye roll here*

Art based reading activities are my favorite and from experience I think the kids feel the same. The girls were ready to fish out their crayons at the drop of the hat. So far, so good!

See also Day 1 and Introduction to the camp

Summer Reading Camp Day 1

This is a more detailed post on the Reading Camp. For more details on its origin, format and motives, please look here.

So this is what Day One looked like. I read a story called Tiddalik the frog. It’s funny and engaging with lots of unusual animal characters in it. This is actually my favorite part, where I get to don several avatars and get all theatrical. Yeah, I know. I love drama.

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I then followed it up with a vocabulary activity. The story was rich with different kinds of verbs, adjectives and nouns. Grammar categorizations are still too advanced for this age group, so I just gave each kid a grid of words from the story and asked them to sort and highlight different ‘types’of words: Animal words (kookoobura, platypus – not so easy to read for a six year old, but not impossible), moving words (twirled, wiggled), feeling words (hungry, grumpy) and object words (things you see around you, e.g. a hill). All the words in the grid were sourced from the story itself, so there was a level of familiarity.





Next we did silent, independent reading for about 15 minutes. My thoughts about this particular ‘activity slot’ are here. My good friend and neighbor Janina was a great help. Although we were a small group, kids this age can be quite-(erm, what’s the polite word for it?)-DEMANDING! 😛



I then did an activity adapted from here on I  asked the kids to write mini books about themselves and their 5 senses.  I added another element to the activity: we revised spellings of body parts (eyes, ears, skin, tongue, nose) and the senses (I hear/listen, I smell, I feel, I see/watch/look, I taste). The kids were then given blueprint of sentences to make on their own. For example: I like touching_________, I like to listen to_________, etc.)

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And that was about it! One hour whizzed by. The girls entered in how many pages they had each read against their names on the progress chart, exchanged books to take home to read and left. Hopefully a happier lot.

Summer Reading Camp 2016

IMG_20160423_151525797I will skip with the introductions for now. That’s what the ABOUT ME section is all about. However, I do want to document this mini summer reading camp I am doing for my 6 year old daughter and some of her neighborhood friends. Age group 6-7.5, give or take. I decided to start small. A small group, meeting for an hour for a stint of ten days. Two reasons:

#1: Her toddler brother won’t allow any commitment bigger than this.

#2: The daughter was a somewhat reluctant reader. I had introduced her to books even before she turned 2 and read to her diligently but all that had taken a backseat when baby n0. 2 arrived on the scene. That had to change. I always had visions of my daughter reading out story books fluently and with pleasure by the time she turned 6. So when her 6th birthday was around the corner, I thought this would be a good way to involve her friends and get them to motivate each other. Who says peer pressure is always a bad thing?

We are nearing the end of the ‘Camp’ and I can gratefully say there has been a marked spike in her interest level. She’s reading more books, more fluently, is more motivated and has begun picking books to read for pleasure. (Not to mention making earnest attempts to read sign boards, labels and cartons!)

Here’s how we did it. I will be posting each day’s activities under a separate post Inshalah, but here’s a gist.

We kept it simple. The sessions were broken down roughly like this:

15-20 minutes of story telling (by me; I try to use a lot of voice modulation, onomatopoeia and exaggerated gestures to keep the kids engaged. For non native learners I think non verbal cues are even more important; even if the kids are sufficiently comfortable with the target language.) This was followed by a brief discussion. Kids could ask questions, quip in with their own experiences or talk about their favorite part, general theme, etc.

15 minutes INDEPENDENT reading: Most people would think nothing really ‘happens’ in this slot. But personally (and as an English teacher) I believe this is the most HAPPENING part of all. Eventually that’s the point of any reading program: to create independent readers. I set up a mini ‘library’, mostly with my daughter’s books while some kids got their own books to add to it. Each kid chose a book of her choice and read as many pages as she could in 15 minutes. I counted how many pages each child read and marked that number on a progress chart against their name with a gold star. So by the end of the day, each child could see her reading ‘score’ on the chart.  My friend and I would help the kids with tough words they got stuck with. I can tell you this: NOTHING motivates a 6 year old more than the desire to get more ‘points’ on the wall than her friends! (And no, I don’t believe any kid was ‘traumatized’ by a poorer score. I kept telling them they each had to become the best reader THEY could be. And each day the ‘strugglers’ put in more effort to better their previous score.) Of course I kept this bit flexible. If the kids seemed to be enjoying an extension activity I would let them be but insist they finish at least ONE book at home.


20 minutes of some literacy based activity or game

5 minutes for each child to select a book from the ‘library’ that they could take home to read. If they finished the entire book by themselves at home, they were marked accordingly on the chart.