12 Things to keep Kids busy in Summer

This year, my daughter Santoshi who was moving to Grade I from Kindergarten decided not to spend her summer holidays at a summer camp but rather relax and unwind at home. She was excited and I was anxious because I had no idea how to keep her occupied.

She has her usual TV shows (My Little Pony, PowerPuff Girls, Martha Speaks, etc.) but those will never do for two months of sitting at home. I saved a lot of craft pins in Pinterest but still it was hard. After what seemed to be an eternity plus one week (the school had decided to postpone reopening by a week), school reopened after summer holidays, much to my relief.

These are the main activities which kept her occupied in Summer vacation:

  1. Write numbers and words – Lottery method
  2. Visit the post office
  3. Splash water in the bathroom
  4. Craft activity – dragon egg
  5. Build sand castles in the beach
  6. Read books and learn new words
  7. Craft activity – Spin Drums
  8. Copy a picture story book
  9. Cycling, Walking, Playing in the Park
  10. Visit the bank
  11. Art activity – thumb print painting
  12. Write a journal

<This is a long post which contains links to multiple articles within this blog>

Write numbers and words – Lottery method

During the holidays, the first “activity” of the day was writing. The school had asked her to write A to Z (lower and uppercase in cursive writing) and numbers 1 to 100. Though the school required her to write them only once a week, I decided to generously supplement the holiday homework given by school. Read here to know how we chose what to write each day and how this helped her when the school reopened.


Visit the post office

Since most of our mails are paperless, the number of physical mail that we receive is abysmally low. Neither do we send snail mail out. So, a trip to the post office became more of a fun activity, rather than a necessity.  We used this trip as an opportunity to learn about the auxillary services offered by the post office such as savings bank account, term deposits, pension disbursements, etc.  See what we did during this trip.

Splash water in the bathroom

Summer and fun with water go hand in hand, don’t they? Since we do not have a yard for an inflatable pool or access to a kids’ swimming pool close by, we use our bathroom. Overhead shower, hand shower, health faucet, buckets filled with water (our bathroom does not have a bath tub) and shower caps to make sure that the hair does not get wet. (of course, I stay in the bathroom to supervise them, for safety reasons with the door closed behind me, we don’t want water outside the bathroom). We also agree on a time limit (say 15 to 20 minutes) in order to save water and also limit exposure to water.

Craft Activity – Dragon Egg

This was one of the first activities that we had done this Summer. Please read here about this activity.



Marina beach is a one of the few places in Chennai where access is free and entertainment is assured. Santoshi had visited the beach multiple times before, but for Anjana this was the first time. Anjana did not like the sound of the waves and the gloomy overcast sky, so she decided to build sand castles with my mother while Santoshi and I enjoyed the cool waves for at least thirty minutes. In case you are visiting Marina Beach, please be wary of the street food sold in and around the beach. Recent newspaper reports show that most of the food were stale. So, resist the temptation and carry your own snacks and water to the trip!



Learn new words from stories

This was in fact part of the school holiday homework – to read at least two new stories and write a minimum of ten new words from each story. We keep adding to Santoshi’s book collection every so often. Now that her reading ability is budding, we had bought picture story books (Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle) hoping that these pictures would help her interested in the stories and give her a context to understand the words.


Amar Chitra Katha - BheeshmaTinkle Digest


Of course, Amar Chitra Katha books were too much of a stretch for her age, but with help she was able to finish two of the three stories in the books (Bhishma and Arjuna’s Secret). Tinkle was a little better in terms of easier plots and simpler words but the font size was way too small. We read a story on sparrows – about finding a place to build nests, how they build nests, etc.

While reading any story, we pause for a bit after reading a page or a section when Santoshi has to explain to us about what was happening in the book. After reading each story, we go through the story again to identify new words and mark them so that she can write them down in her notebook. Going through each story multiple times etched them in her memory.

Initially, I had thought that she might find it difficult to understand magical / supernatural powers or abilities which are a part of the epics such as Mahabharata. Thanks to Disney’s Frozen and other movies/stories which had a magical element, she was not stuck on understanding how Drona was able to use blades of grass to recover the ball or his ring from the bottom of the well or how Bhishma could choose the time of his death.

Read 1000 pages in 60 days

Santoshi had set two goals for herself:

  • To walk a minimum of 1 kilometer every day and
  • To read 1,000 pages before the end of the holidays

Thanks to her determination and co-operation, she achieved both these milestones. We did have a usual route that we took, which was from home to a grocery store, drink a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and walk back, picking up the little one from day care. Since it was summer, we ensured that we started walking only when it was not too hot to avoid sun stroke / dehydration. It took about 30 minutes for us to come back home – walking, order the juice and finish it and pick the baby up.

Until we pick the baby up, Santoshi and I used to take turns to list out CVC words (bat, top, mad…) and blends such as words starting with fl, cl, sh, etc. Sometimes, we will be discussing the story or the book that we had read that day and on some days it was be about “how come there are not many vehicles around 7 am but so many now?”

This is the list of books that we had read:

1020 pages in 60 days

Title India – Kindle India – Physical Book US – Kindle US – Physical Book Pages Cumulative Number of Pages
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Not available http://amzn.to/2vz5rxY Not available http://amzn.to/2htKONy 50 50
Horton Hears a Who Not available http://amzn.to/2v54DhB Not available http://amzn.to/2httqIP 60 110
Marley and Me – The Big Adventure http://amzn.to/2uq3DTg http://amzn.to/2wrstn7 http://amzn.to/2v4MSi9 http://amzn.to/2v5oRHG 30 140
Black Beauty http://amzn.to/2v4UYrd http://amzn.to/2uqj0e9 http://amzn.to/2htTW4Z http://amzn.to/2uapEdc 64 204
Rabbit Ears Not available http://amzn.to/2wrv3cT Not available http://amzn.to/2wdrE1W 28 232
The tale of Jemima The Puddle Duck Not available http://amzn.to/2v4Ub9S Not available http://amzn.to/2htmE5U 24 256
Curious about zero – Donut Delivery http://amzn.to/2uqGW1b http://amzn.to/2fdR1wy http://amzn.to/2fesZSb http://amzn.to/2uapmTO 20 276
Just saving my money Not available http://amzn.to/2v5laBY Not available http://amzn.to/2voY4ZA 27 303
Amelia Bedelia is for the birds http://amzn.to/2v58E5k http://amzn.to/2vz1FEY http://amzn.to/2v4Vw0h http://amzn.to/2ua0ITm 28 331
Curious George and the Dump Truck http://amzn.to/2uqqjCw http://amzn.to/2u7J8LK http://amzn.to/2uatLGw http://amzn.to/2v4D7k9 22 353
Sleep Book Not available http://amzn.to/2wrOZwez Not available http://amzn.to/2v3ldQr 54 407
The Lion King Not available http://amzn.to/2wrEety Not available http://amzn.to/2uau2Jg 62 469
Biscuit Finds a Friend http://amzn.to/2vyIwD9 http://amzn.to/2wdT9Zk http://amzn.to/2votOhz http://amzn.to/2htDzVT 20 489
Mia and the tiny toe shoes http://amzn.to/2wrSG50 http://amzn.to/2wdjM0c http://amzn.to/2huxY1u http://amzn.to/2htc2Uy 28 517
Peppa Pig Little Creatures http://amzn.to/2wd5zQZ http://amzn.to/2wrBpsw Not available http://amzn.to/2v3o4c7 21 538
Ladybird Stories for 5 Year Olds http://amzn.to/2wrwLec http://amzn.to/2v4HMCF http://amzn.to/2wrFj4A http://amzn.to/2v5nCsp 24 562
My Green Green Garden Not available http://amzn.to/2wrQs5o Not available http://amzn.to/2v5nMQx 27 589
Marley Not a Peep http://amzn.to/2v4RHrL http://amzn.to/2vyTBnI http://amzn.to/2v3paVh http://amzn.to/2v5AaQu 29 618
The tale of Peter Rabbit http://amzn.to/2vz5HNK http://amzn.to/2uqxniC http://amzn.to/2v4IAYd http://amzn.to/2htqbBc 21 639
Stone Soup http://amzn.to/2v5oz3C http://amzn.to/2wd79SV Not available http://amzn.to/2voJ1z1 24 663
Be a Friend to Trees Not available http://amzn.to/2wrR0bF Not available http://amzn.to/2v5ypTd 28 691
Strike Three Marley http://amzn.to/2uqQAAF http://amzn.to/2feqijf http://amzn.to/2vnBMaU http://amzn.to/2vyR50N 29 720
The Runaway Pumpkin http://amzn.to/2wdDPeS http://amzn.to/2vySVyS http://amzn.to/2v5tdik http://amzn.to/2fdUriS 28 748
Thanks Mom and Dad http://amzn.to/2v5dAam http://amzn.to/2htE6an http://amzn.to/2v3muqs http://amzn.to/2uqkgxY 22 770
Snow Dog Marley http://amzn.to/2vwkAzx http://amzn.to/2vwmhwE http://amzn.to/2v3eqq0 http://amzn.to/2v5vWrK 29 799
Messy Dog http://amzn.to/2uqbujF http://amzn.to/2wrDwN1 http://amzn.to/2v35MYz http://amzn.to/2fezTXD 29 828
Where are the Night Animals Not available http://amzn.to/2wdozyI Not available http://amzn.to/2fesgAc 27 855
Arthur and the School Pet Not available http://amzn.to/2wrWLpT Not available http://amzn.to/2v5h3WJ 23 878
The tale of Squirrel Nutkin http://amzn.to/2uqSLUR http://amzn.to/2wrkFBMz http://amzn.to/2vzjlQK http://amzn.to/2hug4vR 30 908
The tale of Benjamin Bunny http://amzn.to/2vzedfo http://amzn.to/2vyQLPu Not available http://amzn.to/2hu5DIX 26 934
I want my light on http://amzn.to/2v3DYmY http://amzn.to/2uqUQQL Not available http://amzn.to/2feG0uT 23 957
Comby says Sorry http://amzn.to/2wdaIZb http://amzn.to/2v3cD4i Not available Not available 29 986
Pink Bunny Not available http://amzn.to/2vyWwNo Not available http://amzn.to/2v4O4SN 16 1002
Paddington and the Marmalade Maze http://amzn.to/2vwGtid http://amzn.to/2vwp21d Not available http://amzn.to/2v3fcTH 18 1020

Craft Activity – Spin Drums

Saw this in Pinterest and it was way too cute to pass it up. So, we did make spin drums – please read this post on how we made it.

Copy a picture story book

Though reading books was the predominant pastime in our holidays, sometimes Santoshi had the urge to do something creative while I was not free to engage her in a craft activity. So, we found something which had both – copy a picture story book in her notebook. This was a Scholastic sight words book “Hop” (Book No. 2 in the set) which had pretty pictures on each page with simple sentences. This activity takes about 45 minutes. It not only gave her a great sense of accomplishment but also helped her focus on the task at hand. (Note: No copyright infringement intended)


Cycling, Walking, Playing in the Park

Santoshi has a bicycle with support wheels on either side and Anjana has a Schwinn Easy Steer Trike. We generally spend about 15 minutes cycling, picking flowers, walking and running inside the apartment play area. We also visited the park closeby where swings and slides are the major attractions.  On the days we visit the park, both of them will be super tired with all the running around.



Visit the Bank

Santoshi has a coin box which gets coins and notes more or less on a regular basis. Once the box was full or near full capacity, we decided to deposit her “loot” into her bank account. Read here on our visit to the bank.

Thumb-print painting

I had done thumb-print painting in school and a pin reminded me of this. Based on this pin, Santoshi did a thumb-print art. She was enthusiastic about not only thumb-printing but also adding eyes or legs to complete the picture. Once she was done with it, we had let it dry and sent it to her cousin in the USA on out visit to the post office.


Write a journal

As if the writing exercises were not enough, I encouraged (read forced) her to pen down her experiences or her activities for the day. Of course, this did not happen every day, but only days of which any ‘extraordinary’ activities. She had gone on a week-long trip with my mother to Trichy and nearby places. She had stayed in my uncle’s house for a few days and in a hotel for the rest of the time. She had written about the air travel, dragon egg activity, visits to the bank and post office. This helped her in remembering the activities, sequence of those events and describing them. In the course of the journal keeping, she learnt new words – denomination, counter, passbook, lounge, postage, etc.





Writing Practice for kids – Lottery Method

Write numbers and words – Lottery method

This is one of the activities in Summer holidays for my 6-year old daughter Santoshi who was moving from Kindergarten to Grade I.

During the holidays, the first “activity” of the day was writing. The school had asked her to write A to Z (lower and uppercase in cursive writing) and numbers 1 to 100. Though the school required her to write them only once a week, I decided to generously supplement the holiday homework given by school.

Her daily writing schedule was:

  • Numbers 1 to 100
  • English
    • A to Z (uppercase and lowercase) in cursive writing
    • CVC words
    • Short sentences.

Just to make writing English enjoyable (at least to me), we used the lottery method. I had cut sheets of paper into small strips. Each strip had two letters, five CVC words, two number names (from one to twenty) and three sentences. All these strips were stored in a small carton.


Each day, Santoshi will choose a had written on small strips of paper a set of letters, CVC words and short sentences and put them in a small carton.  Santoshi will have to pick a strip everyday and copy them on her notebook.  She also wrote the date on the strip to ensure that we did not pick it again. With a lot of whining and scribbling and erasing (and sometimes crying), this activity consumed an hour or two everyday.


All her hardwork paid off when the school reopened. Her handwriting and speed had improved, in addition to spellings (of sight words and CVC). She became the teacher’s “helper” in assisting her classmates because she could finish her classwork way ahead of the rest of her class.


Sight words


Another dreaded “subject” in kindergarten was sight words, I guess.

The third month of the academic year started out with three sight words and expanded to thirteen by the sixth month.  Thirteen sight words were not just for recognition, but also for making sentences with them.

Most parents in my daughter’s class were worried that this was going to be yet another exercise at home, apart from numbers.

Now that my daughter Santoshi and I have made considerable progress in numbers, sight words became my next target.

Though the usual way to reach sight words is to pin up or paste cards prominent places in the house, we took a different approach.

We took a maximum of three sight words at a time and tried to make simple sentences with the help of pictures (please forgive my poor drawing skills).


(Tree, flower, rectangle, triangle, boat, bee, dragonfly, birdhouse, rabbit)


(Butterfly, cat, dog, square, trapezoid, circle, car, cloud, bird, leaf, teddy bear, house)

This was the first set of worksheets that I made for her for making sentences with the sight words it, is and a.

We are working on the next set of sight words – on and the.  I will post those worksheets once we are done with them.


Underwater Slumber Party

The underwater school was organizing a slumber party for the preschoolers so that they get to know their classmates better.  Everyone was looking forward to it.

Rainbowfish was the first to arrive blowing bubbles as he inhaled and exhaled.  Next to reach the school were the crab twins, holding each other’s claws.  They were soon followed by Starfish. She attached herself to the nearest rock and watched rainbowfish and the crab twins play a game of tag.

As soon as Jellyfish came in, rainbowfish and the crabs quietly sat next to Starfish, just so that they don’t accidentally bump in to Jellyfish, though Jellyfish seemed nice and looked cute.  To entertain the rest, the crab twins started clacking their claws rhythmically to the tune of “Mary had a little lamb…” Seal just arrived clapping his flippers as the crabs finished the rhyme.

Shark entered the school along with Blue Whale, Eel  and Angler Fish. The next set to appear was Squid, Octopus and TurtlePufferfish was the last one to get in to the classroom.  Dolphin who was the teacher came in right after Pufferfish.

Dolphin greeted all the students by performing a series of dives.  Impressed by the performance, Blue Whale wanted to do something in front of the class.  She used her blowhole to make a splash of water.  Dolphin asked the class if anyone else wanted to ‘perform’ or talk about themselves.

Rainbowfish came forward and showed off his beautiful, vivid scales.  Seal tried a balance ball on his nose.  Shark showed his big, sharp teeth.  Eel swam forward and then backwards!  Turtle let everyone feel her hard shell.

Squid squirted some ink and it took some time for the big blob to disappear.  Pufferfish swallowed a lot of water and became a ball-shaped covered with spikes.

Angler Fish requested Dolphin to shut the doors and windows and turn the lights off for his trick.  Once it was all dark, there was light from his fin!  Everyone was thrilled!

Starfish told  everyone that when she does not want her mom to find her, she attaches herself to the fridge door and mom usually mistakes her to a fridge magnet.  Jellyfish was quite shy, so Dolphin just let her be.  But suddenly, Octopus was missing!  The green chair in which he was sitting was empty. Then, he changed his colour from green back to his own colour and became visible to all.

They played a few games and then had a snack.  Everyone had found a best friend among their classmates.  With that, Dolphin told them that it was time to sleep.  Soon, they were asleep.

The end.



Bad Boys and Donuts


When I met my daughter Santoshi’s teacher at her school, I was told to spend more time with her and go over the number concepts.  I was more than upset and was determined to teach numbers to her.

I got her to write numbers from 1 to 20 and she did it in no time and without any trouble.  So, the next step was recognition of numbers – at random.  We took a sheet from an old calendar and the idea was that I would call the numbers out and she would point to them in the calendar.  While 1 to 10 were easy peasy, 11 to 20 were a disaster.  She was getting confused between 11 and 12; between 15 and 25; between 13 and 30 and so on.

I tried teaching her that some numbers are two-word numbers, such as twenty-five, thirty-one, twenty-three… but my lack of patience and her being upset about my lack of patience brought our ‘session’ to an end with me angry and her scared.  My husband enlightened me that my strategy was clearly not working and that the session not only achieved nothing in terms of learning/ teaching numbers but made my daughter more miserable and my relationship with her chafed.  He made me realise that I needed to spend time with her on a daily basis and give it at least a week to ten days to see any favourable results.

Change of strategy:  After looking up in the internet for some ideas, I put up a small note on the side of our refrigerator a set of six numbers – they were 12, 20, 8, 1, 14 and 12 (again).  These are the birthdays in our family.   The first 12 is Santoshi’s, the last one is our little one’s.  Santoshi saw me write these numbers in a piece of paper and when I was done, she asked me what it was.  I told her that I was putting up a small chart showing birthdays of all in the family.  She was delighted to see her birthday coming up first.  I also told her that twelve was her magic number.  This primarily resolved the confusion between eleven and twelve.

The next few days went on without any rigourous session on numbers, but just occasionally glancing at the chart and asking her what her magic number was.

I couldn’t wait to restart.  But this time, I just revised numbers from 1 to 10 on the first day and 11 to 20 on the next.  I gave her worksheets to practice writing the numbers, hoping that familiarity would soon help in recognition.  Then, we tried counting up in tens from 10 to 100.  I tried to teach her that ‘ty’ numbers ended with zero and teen numbers started with one.  That became yet another failed strategy.

So, back to revising basic concepts.  I made a number chart for her, keeping in mind her strengths.  She was very good at identifying patterns.  So, I took a print of this:

Numbers 1 to 50

I showed only the first column (1 to 10) to her and asked her to read the numbers out.  She was able to read them.  Next, I folded the sheet of paper and showed only the second part of column two (numbers 1 to 9 and 0).  She was puzzled, but still she read them out.  I asked her what would happen it I put a ‘1’ in front of each of the numbers.  She thought for a while.  I showed the entire column two.  She was thrilled to read them out.  I repeated the same with column three – half and then full.  I could see from her face that she was enjoying the process (unlike the previous n times).  When we were finished with the third column (21 to 30), she told me, “Next set is 31, 32, …”.  It was at this point of time that I started enjoying the process too.  We finished all the way to 50.

After 50, the progression was only in 10’s.  She was quite upset that we weren’t doing each and every number after 50.   Though I was tempted to make her write in the empty squares after 50, I knew it would not help much.  So, we did the missing numbers game.  I showed this sheet to her:

Missing Numbers

I told her that some numbers were missing and that she had to point out where each one was.  She could point at most of the numbers correctly.  Both of us had a sense of achievement and decided to stop the activity for the day.

The next day, I was asking her to write the numbers that I was calling out.  That’s when I noticed that after writing zero, she put a dot in the centre which made it somehow look like a donut.  I thought that might help her learn the numbers in a fun way.  I told her that 20, 30, 40, … were donut numbers.  She started laughing uncontrollably and then asked me, “Why are they donut numbers?”  I told her, “That’s because they carry a donut”, and pointed to the trailing zeros.  She liked the idea!

Now, I had to think of something for 11 to 20 which did not fit the pattern.  We went back to the sheet of 1 to 50 and made her read the numbers in this order “21, 31, 41, 51, …”, “22, 32, 42, 52, …” and so on.  She soon figured out the logic behind the numbering pattern.  Then I told her that the numbers 11 to 20 didn’t follow the pattern rules and that they were “bad boys”.  She was startled.  “Even 12, my secret, magic number?  Is that also a bad boy?”  Since 12 is her birthday, we made an exception and told her that “12 alone is a good girl because that is your secret, magic number; but the other numbers in the series are bad boys”.  She was happy again.

We do revise numbers on a daily basis now.  I will ask her to write the numbers that I call out and then the next activity would be to read the numbers that I write down.  Then, for fun, she will call some numbers out and I will have to write them down.  Somehow, thankfully, we found a way to learn numbers.

Our next target is sight words.  We will keep you posted on how we get our way with sight words.




Number Worksheets


My daughter is learning numbers in kindergarten.  Though she can count up to 100, she had (may be, still has?) trouble in recognising numbers beyond 10.  So I started making worksheets for her. We also recently started playing number games.  I am uploading the worksheets here.  They may be useful for your kids too!  Do post a comment on whether (or not) it worked with your kids.  Thanks!

1 to 50


Missing numbers