As an adult, I find that no other time of the year evokes childhood memories quite like summer. It’s also interesting to me that my deepest, fondest memories have nothing to do with grand, expensive events. It often takes just a sensation or a smell to summon up some vivid mental picture of an ordinary moment from my childhood.
My mother must have had no idea that taking me to a yard sale where we’d buy Encyclopedia Brown books or taking me to the tiny one room public library on the way home from the pool would stay so golden in my mind.
It makes me wonder what’s sticking in my own kids’ psyches.
I decided to create a writing challenge to find out.
For Little Kids
- Talk about imagery and how it helps us create mental pictures as readers.
- Talk about the five senses.
- Ask your child to close his or her eyes and think of the perfect summer day, imagining where he or she is, what he or she is doing, and how he or she feels.
- Challenge your child to fill in these blanks to create a poem that gives insight into what constitutes a perfect summer day for him or her and helps the reader create pictures in his or her mind.
- I see___________________________________
- I hear_________________________________
- I taste_________________________________
- I smell________________________________
- I feel__________________________________
Here’s my son’s poem. I should have suspected that my little entomologist would be observing nature on his perfect summer day.
“The Bumblebee Who Tumbled from Tree to Tree”
I see a bee as it tumbles flower to flower, not minding the honey powder.
I hear the winds a blowing. Go little bee because there will be a fallen tree.
I taste the honey, and the bees are funny.
I smell grass and leaves, and I watch the bees.
I feel the wind blowing swift as I watch a bee bumble and tumble.
As the wind blows, it tickles my toes.
For Big Kids and Teens (and You)
- Review the concepts of imagery and vivid word choice.
- Invite your student writer to remember the best summer day of his or her life. Note that it can be a big, eventful day or the most ordinary of days.
- Challenge your student writer to describe that summer day with rich language and powerful imagery that appeals to each of the senses without directly revealing the setting or activity.
Here’s my poem.
The chipped metal door creaks behind me as a cheery, if tired, bell announces my arrival to
She smiles and takes the burden from my arms
I’m sun-blind, but eyes adjust to towers of friends
Wet hair meets a breeze from the vents
My tongue is still alight with garlic and salt from last hour’s adventure
Is a sandwich ever so welcome as when
your mother calls you in for lunch on the table,
and your ponytail drips its very own cool puddle
onto concrete too hot to touch bare feet
A note of chlorine sits atop the aromatic balm of books
My raisin fingers wonder at the new sensation of grazing fingertips
I’ll feel just a little carsick on the way home
Flipping through dry pages
But in no danger
I have all I need.
What about you? Are there any special childhood memories that this time of year evokes for you? Tell me about it in the comments. Especially if your memories involve books!