Let’s Learn : Lockdown Summer Reading Challenge

Every year we do the Summer Reading Challenge, which is in partnership with local libraries across England and Wales. This is a fun literacy program developed by The Reading Agency to help promote and support reading through the summer holiday break. It also helps local libraries by increasing visits, borrowing of books and social time spent in them.

This year though, things have to be different.

The Summer Reading Challenge team decided to take the whole caboodle online to try and offer the program out to as many children as possible, in these difficult times. I understand there are a great many children who don’t have access to internet at home and I wish the program were able to run in libraries to enable those children to be able to join in too. Unfortunately social distancing and infection control make this impossible.

If you do have internet access at home or at a household you are bubbling with, please do pop along to the site, sign up and get started with your child/rens 2020 challenge : The Silly Squad.

All of the instructions and information is there for you and your family to read before you sign up. I hope this may help some of you who may be struggling to keep reading up at home over the next few months!

Alongside the actual reading to complete your personal goals, there are lots of quizzes, worksheets, YouTube videos and games to unlock and explore on the site. Earlier this week, Sullivan completed his ‘read 2 books’ badge which unlocked a Silly Squad drawing YouTube video by illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson. We watched the video and decided to take Laura’s suggestions on board about how to design our own Silly Squad characters. We loved this activity so much I thought i’d share it here with you today.

First, grab some paper, a pen and your imagination. Next, think of some categories that can easily help you design your character. We chose: first name, last name, a noun, a personality and an occupation. Once you have your categories, find a container for each one. This can be a bag/hat/cup/bowl – basically anything you can keep little bits of paper in. The next thing to do is think of some words to fill each category. This was super fun. We wrote about 20 ideas for each category, cut them out, folded them up, then placed them into the correct container.

Once all of your container categories are filled with secret ideas, pick one piece of paper out of each container (we picked two out of the noun container) to build your character! It was so fun opening each little word to find out what we had randomly picked. Once you’ve got your character description, you can then draw them!

Sullivan ended up with Larry Egg-hit, an apple dinosaur who is a happy astronaut. Below is his drawing.

I got Florence Bigmouth, a flower turtle who is a gamer miner. Below is my drawing.

If your children sometimes struggle with big imagination tasks, writing ideas down on bits of paper, folding them and picking random ideas to form something more solid can really jump-start some wonderful creativity.

I hope some of you will still be able to join in with the Summer Reading Challenge this year, despite the restrictions. Over a million books have been read and logged via the website so far, which I think is fantastic given the circumstances.

Let me know below if you try creating your own Silly Squad character, I’d love to see some of them!

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