Ages 3-6

 Curator Tibby W.

Curator Tibby W.

Why I Made This Kit

I have always enjoyed the long hot days of summer and the freedom that came with summer vacation, but it wasn’t until my daughter was born that I realized I had only a passing fancy for the season. She is a true summer child. She constantly wants to be outside. She took to the water like a fish when she was very small and would probably live in the pool if we let her. And she is energized by the long days where sunlight lasts well past the time she should be in bed. Of course this has left me to come up with fun things to fill all those hours of daylight. This spring she discovered water balloons at the dollar store and I just know I’ll be helping her fill them all summer long.


FLIP FLOP cover pdf from suzy small.jpg


Flip Flop! written by Dana Meachen Rau, illustrated by Jana Christy 

A fun beginning reader about two friends deciding what to do on a summer day. They flip and flop between shoes and sandals, popsicles and ice cream and a lot more. With cute illustrations Flip Flop! celebrates summer and all its fun.


Water in the Park: A Book About Water and the Times of Day written by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

Follow activity in the park from sunrise to sunset. A hot summer day breaks with dogs splashing in the pond. Children begin to arrive with their parents and caregivers. By ten o’clock the slides are too hot to touch, but kids are pouring water down them. Another celebration of a summer day, this one spent at the park joyfully splashing in the water.


Water Sings Blue written by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Meilo So 

Beautiful watercolor paintings paired with fun poems all about the beach. The poems run from a few lines to a half page, but all are incredible engaging and evocative of time at the beach. Topics cover flora and fauna of the ocean and beach to waves and tidelines. Poetry is really great way for children to learn to play with language and pay attention to the sounds words make and Water Sings Blue is an excellent book to do that with.



Summer illustrated by Gerda Muller

A wonderful wordless picture book that shows a variety of children engaged in summertime activities, from a day at the beach to a dinner outdoors. The book ends with a gentle reminder that while the exhilarating days of summer may be over back-to-school season brings joy too. The pictures are really sweet and idyllic and the wordless format make this perfect for pre-readers and for quiet time.


Mama, Is It Summer Yet? written and illustrated by Nikki McClure 

A book that celebrates the anticipation of summer. A little boy continually asks if it’s summer yet. His mother patiently answers while the two ready the garden and house and venture out into nature. When summer finally arrives they celebrate with a picnic and ripe, red strawberries. McClure uses cut paper to illustrate the story with black lines and splashes of color. The pictures have small treasures hidden in them for children to find and pore over.


Freedom Summer written by Deborah Wiles, illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue 

A bittersweet story about friendship in the summer of 1964 in the Deep South. Joe and John Henry are good friends and they spend the summers swimming in the river together, getting ice cream, and playing marbles. This summer, though, their town is desegregating and John Henry should now be able to swim in the town pool with Joe because John Henry is black and Joe is white. When they arrive at the pool they discover a team of workmen filling it with tar. Joe now sees his town from a very different angle. Freedom Summer tackles desegregation through the eyes of two young boys and their bond of friendship. An excellent book about a pivotal and historic summer. Wiles’ authors note has some age appropriate history included as well as some personal memories of growing up in Alabama in the 1960s.



Wave illustrated by Suzy Lee

The quintessential book about children playing at the beach. A little girl splashes in the waves at the beach running after them and from them. Joined by a flock of seagulls the girl spends the day having fun in the sun, finding treasures, and getting wet. This is another wordless book great for quiet time and for young summer lovers.

Media Resources


Often summertime can be difficult for parents because kids are out of school and in need of something to do. When you need an awesome activity check out the Tinkerlab website. Rachel Doorley shares tons of ideas meant to spark creativity and curiosity especially with science, engineering, and math. Most activities are hands-on and many only require basics from around the house (think marble runs with paper towel and toilet paper tubes).

  • Tip: Be sure to check out this post ( on Rube Goldberg machines and give these a try as a family activity.


Abby Makes Seasons Change

A few clips from Sesame Street featuring Abby and Elmo. Abby sings about recognizing the seasons based on their weather and activities. Adrian Grenier and Elmo talk about what a season is and use the SeasonBot 3000 to learn about the weather in each season.

  • Tip: After watching these videos go outside and see what the weather is like today. Also check out the weather journal activity below. This would be a good starting place for that, especially with younger children who may not have seen that many summers yet.


Sesame Street: Lazy Summer Day  

Hanging out on the roof, a group of children listen to the sounds they can hear. They sing about all the sounds from horns honking to children laughing and playing that they notice. All on a lazy summer day.

  • Tip: Open a window or go outside and see what you can hear on a lazy summer day. Try listening at different times of day and see if the sounds change.


I Love Summer

A fun, simple song for kids to sing along with. Celebrates some of the fun things you can do during the summer and why you might love summer. The lyrics are easy to understand for young singers and the words are included at the top of the video for kids learning to read.


Below are a few apps that can help keep kids entertained on a really hot day and some ebooks that celebrate the season.


Overview: A detailed weather app with temperature, humidity, wind speed and more all shown on a user friendly interface.

Inside Scoop: Summer is all about hot days. See how hot it gets using this weather app. You can also track wind speed and direction, upcoming weather, sunrise and sunset, precipitations, UV and pollen count all tailored to your location. There is a choice for current conditions, hourly predictions and a 10-day forecast. A lot of the information is shown with a visual (such as a sliding scale for wind speed showing how strong it is or a color for UV exposure indicating strength) which makes it easier for younger weather enthusiasts to understand. Use this app with the weather journal activity below for a fun way to document the summer. The app is free, but it includes a few ads. For $2.99 you can get a yearly “subscription” that will remove them if they really bother you.


Counting Bees

Overview: A very simple app that helps kids practice counting to twenty with bees.

Inside Scoop: Help the bees get to the flowers to collect nectar and pollen. As each bee comes on screen, touch the bee and draw a line from it to the center of a flower. The bee will fly to the flower unless she encounters another bee along the way. A number is displayed in the corner indicating the number of bees you need to help. As each bee is touched the narration counts out loud reinforcing the numbers. Once the number is reached a honey jar appears on a table and the bees fly onto screen as the app counts and fills the honey jar. Numbers go up to twenty and there are options to count in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese. The app costs $1.99.

Preschool Books- I Like Summer

Overview: A perfect toddler book sharing summertime activities with bright engaging photographs of real children.

Inside Scoop: Summertime means splashing, eating icecream, and being outside. Many young children love pictures of other kids and I Like Summer shares the joys of the season through photographs of real children. The simple text is great for beginning readers and young listeners alike. You can use the book to spark discussion about your child’s favorite summer activities or about new experiences they have had or will have over the summer. There are options to read the book yourself or have it read to you. You can also touch any word and the app will highlight it in red and say it aloud. The app is free.

Little Critter at Scout Camp

Overview: Little Critter goes off to an overnight scout camp where he has lots of fun learning about nature, telling ghost stories and making crafts.  

Inside Scoop: The Little Critter ebooks are great. The straight forward narration and simple animation of the pages (mostly close ups and zooming in and out on the original illustrations) are perfect for younger audiences.The experience is not about all the bells and whistles, but about listening to the story. In Little Critter at Scout Camp, Little Critter goes off for a traditional summertime ritual- sleep away camp. He shares all the ups and downs of camp, including gooey eggs and limp bacon and all the fun activities, including running away from a skunk! Touch any object on the page and the word appears in large letters and is read out loud. Each page has a grasshopper and spider to find. You have the option of reading it yourself, having the story read to you while you turn the pages or having it read to you and the app turns the pages automatically. The narration is really well done, easy to hear and understand, and features some sound effects to set the mood. The book is well worth the $1.99 price tag.


Weather Journal

Summer is all about the weather no matter where you live. Sweltering days, warm nights. Storms or long dry weeks. Monsoons, humidity, cool breezes off rivers, lakes and oceans. Or thick fog if you live in San Francisco. You don’t have to make observations of the weather everyday, maybe try once a week, but making a point to notice the weather and talk a bit about it starts drawing your child’s attention to the world around them and how it changes from day to day. You might also discover that they have lots of questions and predictions about the weather.

What You’ll Need

  • pen or pencil
  • notebook
  • weather app or weather station (optional)

What To Do

  1. Grab a notebook and pencil and note the date at the top of the page.

  2. Go outside with your child and ask them what they weather is like. Record their observations in the notebook. Have them draw a picture of the sky or the horizon or something to remind them of the weather that day.

  3. Things to look for and think about:

    • What does the sky look like?

    • How does the temperature feel?

    • Is there any wind?

    • If you go out at different times of day does the weather change? How?

    • Can you tell if a storm is coming?

    • After measuring the weather for a few weeks, can you predict what the temperature is? Can you predict how hot it will get later in the day? Or if it will cool off at night?

  • If you’d like you can download a weather app, such as WeatherBug, onto your tablet or phone and use that for a variety of exact measurements such as humidity, wind speed, and temperature. If you have a small weather station that measures the temperature and humidity feel free to consult that.


Ice Excavation

Why This Activity

Summer is hot, so why not cool off with an activity involving ice? Learning that ice melts is an early science lesson in changing states of matter. And adding salt to help them melt the ice is also an early science lesson. Note, you’ll have to let this freeze overnight before your child can excavate.

What You’ll Need

  • freezer safe bowl, pitcher, or container
  • small toys or loose pieces (plastic animals, rocks, cars, bead necklaces, small foam shapes or blocks, legos, coins, etc.)
  • food coloring (optional)
  • squeeze bottle, eye dropper, or cup and bowl or warm water
  • salt

What To Do

  1. Fill your container with water. Add food coloring if you want to.
  2. Add the toys to the container and pop it in the freezer overnight.
  3. To create layers of toys and/or colors of water, fill the container up layer by layer and adding color and toys as you go. Freeze for several hours between layers allowing the ice to harden enough that the layers won’t mix. The amount of time needed to harden enough will depend on the size and shape of your container and the thickness of the layers.
  4. Once frozen solid, rinse the outside of the container with warm water or submerge in water for a few minutes to remove the block of ice. Place the ice block in a large baking dish or outside on the ground.
  5. Present it with squeeze bottles filled with warm water and a small bowl of salt. Or present with bowls of water and cups to pour and a small bowl of salt.
  6. Your child can squeeze and squirt water over the ice to melt it a nd release the toys. They can also sprinkle salt on to help it melt faster.

Adapted from: 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids by Asia Citro


Popsicles & Frozen Yogurt

 Source: Buggy and Buddy

Source: Buggy and Buddy

Popsicles and ice cream are staples of childhood during the summer. Making them at home provides some entertainment and the product is often much healthier than a store-bought box of popsicles or carton of ice cream. Don’t forget, cooking is also a real world science experiment.

Variation 1: Popsicles

What You’ll Need

  • popsicle molds (often readily available in summer for a few dollars at the grocery store or drugstore) OR tiny paper cups and popsicle sticks
  • Sprite, 7UP, flavored sparkling water, or coconut water
  • fruit such as: cut up strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, and grapes

What To Do

  1. If using cups, place them on a cookie sheet.
  2. Fill the molds or cups about ⅔ full with the liquid of choice.
  3. Drop in the fruit and, if using cups, add a popsicle stick.
  4. Carefully place the molds or cookie sheet into the freezer and allow to freeze for several hours or overnight. The amount of time needed to freeze will depend on the size of your molds or cups.


Variation 2: Frozen Yogurt

What You’ll Need

  • 7 ounces strawberries
  • ¼ cup honey or maple syrup
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups full-fat plain yogurt (OR you may use vanilla yogurt, but omit the vanilla extract if you do)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • blender
  • metal loaf pan or square metal baking pan

What To Do

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a metal loaf pan or square metal baking pan. (If you have an ice cream maker you can pour the blended mixture into it and churn according to its instructions.)
  3. Place pan in freezer and allow to freeze for about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the freezer and using a fork whisk the yogurt until it is creamy. Place the pan back in the freezer for another 30 minutes and remove and whisk again. Do this three more times at 30 minute intervals. This process prevents ice crystals from forming and will keep the yogurt creamy instead of hard.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap to store the frozen yogurt.

Adapted from: My New Roots by Sarah Britton


Bubble Snakes

With just a few items from around the house and out of the recycle bin you can make long snakes of bubbles. This is fun outdoor activity perfect for summertime, especially when kids need something to do and need to get outside.

What You’ll Need

  • disposable water bottle
  • scissors
  • mismatched sock
  • rubberband
  • shallow dish such as a pie tin
  • dish soap
  • water
  • food coloring (optional)

What To Do

  1. Cut the bottom off the water bottle.
  2. Put the toe end of the sock over the end of the bottle and pull it tight. Place the rubber band around it to hold it in place.
  3. Fill the dish with a little bit of water and squirt in some dish soap.
  4. Dip the sock end of the water bottle into the dish.
  5. Blow through the mouth of the bottle. A long snake of bubbles should appear. If not you may need to tweak the amount of soap in the dish by adding more or soak the sock more.
  6. You can add drops of food coloring directly onto the sock then blow through the bottle. This should color the bubble snake. See how many colors you can get in one snake.

Source: Housing a Forest


Sidewalk Paint

 Source: Growing a Jeweled Rose

Source: Growing a Jeweled Rose

This is another fun outdoor activity that allows kids to get a little messy and creative. Adding vinegar at the end shows them the reaction between vinegar and baking soda.

What You’ll Need

  • squirt bottles (feel free to rescue shampoo bottles from the recycle or check the dollar store for condiment bottles)
  • baking soda
  • cornstarch
  • food coloring
  • water
  • vinegar

What To Do

  1. Mix equal parts cornstarch and baking soda. Fill the squirt bottles about ⅔ full with the mixture. Feel free to mix the two powders together in the bottles.
  2. Add a few drops of food coloring and fill the bottles the rest of the way full with water.
  3. Stir the mixture until it comes together with the consistency of tempera paint.
  4. Your child can now use the bottles to draw on the sidewalk.
  5. When they are done or are ready give them a squirt bottle full of white vinegar and encourage them to squirt their paintings to watch the paint fizz.

Source: Growing a Jeweled Rose

Animal or Car Wash

Summer is the perfect time to play with water. Giving your child tools like a toothbrush or scrubber helps them develop their fine motor skills while they’re having fun.

What You’ll Need

  • plastic animals or cars
  • tub of water
  • soap (optional)
  • scrubbers (old toothbrushes work well)
  • cups for rinsing
  • small towels or rags

What To Do

  1. Fill a small tub with water. If you’d prefer to put soap directly into the water you can do that now or skip it all together.
  2. Place the soap next to the tub along with the towels and animals or cars.
  3. Invite your child to the animal (or car) wash and encourage them to dunk the animals into the water and give them a good scrub.
  4. When they are done getting scrubbed and rinsed they can be dried off with the towels.

Family Activity: Water Balloon Olympics

It’s always fun to get outside. Even better when it can involve the whole family and a little friendly competition. These games are the perfect way to do that and to cool off on a hot summer afternoon. Feel free to pair up younger and older kids or have girls vs. boys or not compete at all. If you have a small family this might be a good time to invite the neighbors over or have a few friends from school come over for a playdate. This is a good activity for the lawn as the water will go to use watering the lawn. Look for water balloons at the dollar store. Also look for packages that come with a little nozzle that attaches to your hose bib or sink. That makes filling them so much easier and faster.

What You’ll Need

  • water balloons, filled with water

Balloon Toss

What To Do

  • Two players stand facing each other just a foot or so apart. One tosses a water balloon to the other person.
  • If the person catches the balloon or if it doesn’t burst when dropped, they each take a step back.
  • Repeat this until someone drops the balloon and is splashed.

Target Practice

What To Do

  • Using sidewalk chalk or a jump rope draw a circle on the ground.
  • Start a few feet from the circle (closer is better for young players). Take turns tossing balloons at the target. Take a step back each time your balloon lands within the circle.
  • Instead of drawing a circle, a brave (or warm) family member might want to volunteer to be the target.

High Toss

What To Do

  • Take turns tossing water balloons as high as you can straight into the air.
  • Be careful where they come down. They just might land on your head!
  • Highest toss wins. Or biggest splash.

Water Balloon Fight

What To Do

  • Choose teams or go it alone.
  • Throw water balloons at each other. Either the driest or wettest team wins.

About Tibby W.

Tibby, a curator from the Bay Area, was born to love books.  Seriously.  Her parents named her after a nickname from a children’s book!  Anyone remember the Betsy, Tacy, and Tib” books?  There you have it.  Even stranger, Tibby’s best friend from high school is the granddaughter of the illustrator of the series.  Now, that is someone almost born with a book in her hand!  Tibby is a former teacher and children’s librarian, currently staying home to spend time with her little one.  She is a dynamic member of our curator community, and we’re thrilled to have her!  Let the questions begin, and if you have more questions, leave comments or visit us @zoobeanforkids!