Author and editor Deanna F. Cook hand-picks some favorite activities from Storey books for kids.

With school out for the summer, now is a great time for kids to dive into a good book. Why not spark their interest in a different type of summer reading and hand them an activity book? Not only will kids enjoy a little carefree fun as they try their hand at cooking, sewing, and getting creative, they’ll continue to build math, reading, science, and problem-solving skills that will serve them well when they return to the classroom this fall.

Here are a few of my favorite activities from Storey books for kids that are perfect for this time of year.

Make Breakfast from Scratch

French toast on a stick

Photo © Julie Bidwell, excerpted from Cooking Class

Now that the mad dash to catch the school bus in the morning is done for the summer, kids have more time to make breakfast. Share this recipe for French Toast on a Stick made with local berries, from Cooking Class. As kids learn their way around the kitchen, they’ll practice skills like cracking eggs, cooking over the stovetop, and following directions (not to mention feeling the satisfaction of making a nourishing meal with their own two hands)!

Visit a Farmer’s Market

Farmers Market veggies

Illustration by Alyssa Nassner, excerpted from Farmers Market Create-and-Play Activity Book

Summer is prime farmers’ market season — a feast for the senses and a lesson in learning about local food. Before you and the kids head to your town market, print out these scavenger hunt sheets from Farmers Market Create-and-Play Activity Book (forthcoming this fall!) and send your little eaters on a search for yummy treasures. Talk with them about making healthy food choices, and don’t forget to bring a few fruits and veggies home to try.

Learn to Sew

snack pouch

Photo © Justin Fox Burks, excerpted from Sewing School 2

After a quick lesson on the sewing machine from you, hand kids some fabric and this pattern for an easy-to-make, reusable snack time pouch from Sewing School 2 — perfect for taking along a healthy treat on summer car rides or for long days at camp (and it’s a great way to practice those measuring skills)!

Go on a Nature Hunt

Sitting outdoors Nature Connection

Illustration © Clare Walker Leslie, excerpted from The Nature Connection

Get the kids to unplug and spend some time outside in nature every day. Naturalist’s Sounds and CluesThe Nature Around Me, My Weather Watch Worksheet, and more activities from The Nature Connection help curious kids log their nature findings and create a record of the season. Along the trail, they’ll brush up on fun science facts and field biology.

Open a Pet Vet Clinic

Teddy Bear Clinic

On a rainy day, gather up stuffed animals and set up a care clinic at home. With printable forms and signs from Teddy Bear Doctor, kids will have everything they need to open a doctor’s office for hours of play, plus science, math, and writing skills.

Build a Barn-in-a-Box

Girl playing with horses

Photo by Katie Craig, excerpted from Horse Play!

For the horse-crazy kid in your household, creating a perfect home for model horses is as easy as 1-2-3. All they need are a few basics you probably already have on hand and directions (below) from Horse Play!  When they’re done, download this Barn-in-a-Box Props PDF for creative ways to accessorize and bring the barn to life! Happy summer!

Barn-in-a-Box instructions excerpted from Horse Play! © 2016 by Storey Publishing, LLC. Photos by Katie Craig. All rights reserved.


What You Need

  • Small plain cardboard box (about 10 by 12 inches)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Utility or X-Acto knife (and a grown-up to help you use it)
  • Tape
  • Patterned or red paper or paint
  • Brown construction paper
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    Step 1: Open up all the top flaps of the box.

  2. Photo of

    Step 2: Lift the longer (side) flaps to form a pitched barn roof. Use a pencil to trace the roof angle on the end flaps.

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    Step 3: Cut along the lines with scissors to trim off the corners. Line up all the flaps, and tape the roof together.

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    Step 4: Wrap the box with patterned or red paper (like you’re wrapping a present). Or paint the box red.

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    Step 5: Fold the brown paper in half for the roof. Set it on the barn, trim it with scissors, if necessary. Then tape it to the top of the barn.

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    Step 6: On the front of the barn use an X-Acto or utility knife (grown-ups only) to make a door, cutting up one side and across the top and bottom of the door. Bend the door open. Cut the door in half to make a Dutch door. Now you’re ready to decorate! If you want, make some fun accessories (see the Barn-in-a-Box Props PDF above) and get ready for some horsing around!

Deanna F. Cook

Deanna F. Cook is the award-winning author of cookbooks for kids, including the best-selling Cooking Class, Baking Class,and Cooking Class Global Feast! She served as… See Bio

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