kicking off summer reading: backyard book party

summer reading, backyard book partyThe school year is slowly winding down, and finally (finally!) we’re settling into our summertime schedule–not the spring-summer overlap that has had me near crazy for the last two weeks.

With the soccer season officially over, three days of dance recitals down, and flag football totally ohhh-ver, we’re on the high road to swim and dive.  And a whole lotta time at home. With my three favorite people in the world.

Summer is always my favorite time of the year, and this year’s no different.

We just so happened to have two new families coming to our school this fall–two families with whom I’ve been acquainted for quite some time, since Maddy, Owen, and Cora were teeny.  So I thought that this final weekend-before-school-lets-out would be a good time to have everyone over for a quick little impromptu playdate and Backyard Book Party.

The sun was shining, the kids were playing, and everyone left with a handful of books.  And it was super to chat with a few great friends and let our kids get re-connected.

I think it’s something I’d like to do each year before school lets out because for us, this little Backyard Book Party got all of our kids reading–and excited about continuing the book-love throughout the summer.

Here’s the skinny . . .

  • Backyard Book Party:  I was grateful to have received a Summer Reading Party Pack from PBS Kids & iVillage in celebration of their Summer Reading Community Challenge, packed with fun summer reading goodies, and perfect for a get-to-know-you brunch.

summer reading: backyard book party

Yay for our Book Party goodies from PBS & iVillage and our friends at Scholastic!

summer reading: backyard book party

Fun and silly printables–that you can have too!

The party pack included Word Girl & SuperWHY! games and coloring pages, much like ones you can find on PBS Parents or PBS Kids, along with some cool temporary tattoos, bookmarks, stickers, and books.

The party was short and sweet, but we covered a lot of crazy-fun territory:

  • Welcome! Brunch and Play: Mini-bagels, donuts, muffins, and fruit! YUM!

When I saw it, I thought, Oh! I know this one! Kids love it! And immediately, the song was stuck in my mind: I know an old lady who swallowed a fly. . . I don’t know why she swallowed that fly. . .

summer reading: backyard book party

Kids loved Fly-Swatter Painting. . .

summer reading: backyard book party

and the moms thanked me that the paint was washable!

But then I looked closer and realized that our books were not the old standby but were indeed a new and exciting version where our happy old lady swallows a chick Earlier, I decided that one of our Book Party activities was going to be a craft–something where our kids could get a little creative and colorful–and our book was my inspiration for a fun and crazy craft: Fly Swatter Painting.

A super way of activating schema–getting kids’ brains moving before they start reading this new book would be to get their brains connecting to something they remember in the original book, right?  Flies!  That was it! Fly Swatter Painting would be perfect!

I taped up some white roll paper, put washable paint on paper plates, and let the kids at it.  They loved the mixing of colors and swatting of paint–they giggled and swatted and it really gave them something to smile about!


summer reading: backyard book party

No paint brushes here, folks. . .

summer reading, backyard book party

. . . only fly swatters and paper plates of paint. . .

summer reading, backyard book party

. . . such an incredibly beautiful masterpiece!

  • Get to Know You Games: After a quick re-introduction for the handful of kids who were here, we did some fun ice-breaker games.

Silent Sorting is something I used to do in the classroom at different times in the year so my students got to know each other a bit better.  I think I learned these ‘ice-breakers’ way back when I worked at Maryland Leadership Workshop–which I highly recommend parents check out.

Silent Sorting is just that–kids sorting themselves without speaking! So with specific instructions, the whole group of kiddos first sorted themselves from youngest to oldest by age, and then they sorted themselves into alphabetical order by first name.  SO fun.

Usually a great ending signal is that the whole group claps together three times, but I skipped that. . .

The kids were thrilled to add their book to the table, look through the bin of books, and talk to each other about BOOKS! They all left heavy-handed and psyched for summer reading–yay!

  • Drawing, Games, and Play: When everyone arrived, they put their names in a bin for a drawing at the end of the party.

We gave away two prizes–one Scholastic bag filled with reading goodies and one Curious George DVD and book.  The two little winners loved their prizes.  But even if you don’t have prizes to give away, something small–a new book from the dollar store or a pack of markers and a tablet–would do the trick.

Kids love drawings!

summer reading: backyard book party

Two fun prizes from Scholastic and PBS Kids–AWESOME!

summer reading: backyard book party

The kids loved playing Suspend!

And they also love games–I put out Melissa & Doug’s new game, Suspend, which the kids challenged themselves with as the party winded down.  It’s a super game that I cannot wait to share more about. (And we’ll have a giveaway to boot!)


And that’s it! Just a fun late Sunday morning Summer Reading Backyard Book Party with friends new and old! I am really looking forward to continuing the tradition and continuing Book Swaps throughout the summer. . .

Want more info on Summer Reading Resources?  Feel free to print and share!
Teachmama Summer Reading Roundup


fyi: As a PBS VIP I was given the opportunity to participate in the PBS Kids iVillage Summer Reading Community Challenge, but anyone can–and I encourage you to! I received the Summer Reading Kick-Off Party from my friends at PBS & iVillage, but my opinions here are all my own.  Many thanks to PBS Kids, iVillage, Scholastic, and Melissa & Doug for providing me with items in this post.  This post does include affiliate links.  

And many, many thanks to the amazing and talented Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool for inspiring our Fly Swatter Painting! I saw her guest post on the amazing and talented Anna’s Imagination Tree blog awhile back.  Thanks, ladies!




  1. says

    I am totally jealous that we didn’t get to come to your party! I love reading and my youngest child does too–in fact we just had his 2nd birthday party and it was a reading/book theme. I had gotten a giant (3 ft tall) inflatable bookworm that we had at the party. It was from Oriental Trading Company and so fun! :)


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