Summertime swaps

The last school bell of the year is only weeks away. Before you know it, your kids will be saying goodbye to tests and homework and hello to beaches, camps and family vacations. While they are busy with summer adventures, your kids may not see their best buddies on a regular basis.

To keep those friendships alive and well, work together on a project that will help your kids keep in touch with their pals during the summer months (while also getting some practice at reading and writing skills). Your kids—and their lucky friends—will enjoy setting up these"summer swaps” and then anticipating hearing from each other during the coming months.

Keep Me Posted! 

Whether you have big trips planned or are keeping your adventures closer to home, your kids will love sending their friends postcards to keep them updated on their new experiences.

Purchase enough blank postcards so each child in the swap will get a postcard from every other participant (for example, for six children you will need 30 postcards). You could also make your own postcard-size paper by cutting pieces that are 4-1/4 by 6 inches. Address all of the postcards in each pile, skipping the child who will be sending that pile of postcards out. To make the mailing process easy, place a postcard-rate postage stamp on each card. Bundle each group of cards together and secure them with a ribbon or string. Attach an instruction sheet directing the swap participants to draw a picture or write about one of their summer adventures and mail the cards to their friends throughout the summer. This project is doubly fun because each child gets to create her own cards to send off and also anticipates receiving notes back.

A Reading Go‘Round

You can apply the same swap principles to books. Organize children to participate in a book swap of favorite, summer-themed books. Create a master list with all participants’ summer mailing addresses. Make a"routing list” telling the participants where they should send their books. For example, if you have five children participating, instruct Annie to send a book to Bobby, who sends a book on to Charlie, who passes a favorite read on to Dylan, who then sends a book to Ellie. As the last person on the list, Ellie sends her pick to Annie and the swap continues. If you have five children in the swap, each child will get to read four different books as the summer progresses. Set a schedule so participants know about when to mail their books (for example, pass each book on after you’ve had it for two weeks). Before sending your book off, have your child attach a note or picture explaining why she likes it and have each person add on their own contribution. When the books are returned to the original owners, each child will have a record of what his buddies thought of the book. In August, you could even have a"book club” party to choose the favorite book of the summer.

Reading Go‘Round

•A favorite summer-themed book

•Instructions for the swap

•Mailing addresses of friends

•Pens, crayons, markers or other art supplies you have on hand

•Mailing supplies

Postcard Swap

•Blank postcards (blank, postcard-size paper is available at the Paper Source (

•Pens, crayons, markers or other art supplies you have on hand

•Postage stamps

•Ribbon or string

•Mailing addresses of friends

•Instructions for the swap

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