Summer Activity Tool Kit by Vivian Kirkfield

I was watching ‘educational’ television the other day with my six-year old grandson and I couldn’t believe how many commercials there were.  6month13It’s no wonder that kids, who are watching and listening and absorbing everything they see and hear, come to their parents with requests…and sometimes, demands, of what they want.
Many parents spend more than they can afford to provide their kids with expensive electronic gadgets and ‘must-have’ items.
How much is too much?

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To be honest, many young children would prefer the box the toy comes in! And although you may enjoy the peace and quiet of a kid absorbed in Minecraft videos or Angry Birds’ computer games, it’s really important to make sure kids have balance in their day.

Now that summer is around the corner, why not put together a tool-kit for your kids – one that requires NO batteries because the activities are powered by a child’s imagination. You can use a plastic tote with a lid (available at department stores for just a couple of dollars) with a several smaller shoebox-sized plastic containers to make things a bit more organized.

Here’s a list of my top 10 picks of what belongs in this tool-kit of magical imagination:
• Paper: Colored Construction paper, tracing paper, finger paint paper, sketch paper
• Crayons/markers/colored pencils
• Glue stick/Scissors
• Paint/brushes/sponges
• Paper plates
• Paper lunch bags
• Clay and/or play dough
• Pretend play clothes
• Musical instruments like drums, bells, triangles
• Flannel board pieces and puppets for storytelling and role play

If you only have 15 minutes, here’s an idea. Grab several pieces of paper and on each, write down an activity that takes about 15 minutes…playing with clay, making a paper plate animal, telling a flannel board story, dressing up and retelling a favorite story or fairy tale. Fold each paper and put it into a jar. Invite your child to pick one – open it – and that will be the activity you will do with him or her. Having the summer tool-kit of magical imagination prepared, you and your child will have 15 minutes of joyful interaction, without having to run around the house searching for supplies.

My grandson and I started reading the first book in the Magic Tree House Series…a new favorite of his. Dinosaurs Before Dark was exciting. We read a couple of chapters every day and when it was finished, I told him he could pick one activity from the jar. MAKE CLAY FIGURES OF THE DINOSAURS was the paper he unfolded.
We pulled out the tool-kit and he got out the clay. Jeremy decided to make the T-rex.

DSCN7821This type of interaction is so valuable for kids…for developing literacy skills, mastering tasks like cutting and pasting, and sparking the imagination. My parent-teacher resource, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, is filled with 100 quick and easy craft projects that use the contents of the tool-kit.
For example, if you and your child have read I Feel Happy and Sad and Angry and Glad by Mary Murphy (or any other book about emotions), you can make happy and sad faces door hangers. Cut out a shape for the head or use a paper plate Punch a hole in the top and string a piece of yarn or ribbon through it. Let your child draw a happy face on one side and a sad face on the other. Then your child can role play or you can ask how he would feel in certain situations (if someone took his toy, if he won a prize, if he zipped his jacket all by himself, if the kids in his class laughed at his lunch) and he can turn the plate to the side that shows how he feels. The door hanger can then be placed on the knob of his door…if you see the face on the sad side, you can initiate a chat…maybe something is bothering him.    DSCN4670DSCN4671

The best thing about this summer tool-kit isn’t that the supplies are inexpensive, although that is definitely a plus. The best thing is that all of the items will spark your child’s imagination and creativity. And that’s a good thing!

Vivian’s Bio:               Picture 158 B 2
Although she is not a fan of heights and was always a rather timid child, Vivian Kirkfield is constantly taking leaps of faith. She self-published Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking,    SHOW ME HOW KINDLE Cover 01 went skydiving with her son, flew half-way around the globe to speak at the 2013AFCC/SCBWI conference in Singapore, and is amassing a respectable pile of submission-ready picture book manuscripts. When she isn’t scribbling stories, Vivian is hiking and fly-fishing with her hubby, reading, crafting and cooking with kids, and sharing self-esteem and literacy tips with parents and teachers.

To learn more about her mission to help every child become a lover of books and reading, you can follow her on:   Blog:    Email:



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Stop by next month for a second post from Vivian where you’ll have a chance to win a copy of her wonderful book:Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.

29 thoughts on “Summer Activity Tool Kit by Vivian Kirkfield

  1. Great tool kit and advice! Reminded me of all our homeschooling years, especially when the kids were little. I should have bought stocks in Crayola given how much of their air-drying clay we used. LOL!

  2. As parents and grandparents, is so important to encourage curiosity, imagination and exploration in our precious children. By doing so, we raise our kids to be confident, strong, and mature.

    Thank you, Vivian for your words of wisdom.

    • You are very kind, Suzy! But it’s so true…those simple activities and the open, relaxed communication that takes place during those times are worth more than the most expensive toy. Nothing against Disneyland or similar park experiences, but seriously…they are so darned expensive and younger kids really only enjoy the ice cream cone and about an hour (if that) of rides and stuff. I’d vote for saving the money and staying close to home and spending time with them this way. 😉

  3. Vivian’s book, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking, describes a picture book and child-friendly food related to each fun craft – many hours of commercial-free entertainment. It’s a great gift for parents and grandparents of young children!

    • Hi Juliana…you hit the nail on the head! These activities are powered by a child’s imagination and a parent’s (or grandparent’s) participation. But to be honest, what I found, especially when I had my daycare, is that if you spend those 15-30 minutes with a child, reading, crafting, cooking or whatever…they may be able to amuse themselves happily for twice as long after that.
      I’ll bet they’ve got some great stuff in those dress up boxes. 😉

      • Oh totally, Juiiana…when my grandson knows he has me for the day…he wants to do non-stop whatever with me…and you are right…I love it, too. 😉

  4. Pingback: PPBF: Tough Eddie | Picture Books Help Kids Soar

  5. This is a lovely post. Your right, when I have my nephews over from Australia it’s non stop fun time. reading, writing, drawing etc… I always find the house soooo quiet when they go home. I love this time with them. Vivian’s book is a gold-mine of fun and adventure! 🙂

    • This week is ‘grammy camp’, Diane…so Jeremy and I will be diving into the book for some ideas! But I can’t say it isn’t nice to have the quiet times as well…otherwise, we’d never get a chance to write, right? 🙂

  6. Even for older kids, dress up clothes can be a big hit. My mother still has some of the dress up clothes that my sister and I loved as kids. Nothing beats a twirly skirt!

  7. Yes! Great post, Vivian 🙂 I always kept my daughter and her friends busy during the summer with crafts, games, bicycle rides, and their favorite thing-papier-mache. We had so much fun and I wish you and yours a magical summer!

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