Raising Summer Readers Tip #22: Travel Tip — Ask your kids if they want to “paint-a-scene” while on vacation, and then use their painting as a storytelling prompt!


The boys painting a Dominican Republic beach scene.

Travel with a simple set of Crayola watercolors, paintbrushes, and paper. Crayola watercolors in particular, with their flat plastic containers, are easy to pack in a suitcase as well as a in a smaller bag when heading out on a vacation excursion. If you’re heading somewhere picturesque for some summer fun (e.g., the beach, a picnic, a hike), a few minutes of time spent painting might be a welcomed relief from the action and the heat. If kids are interested, ask them to paint what they see. (Of course this can be done with colored pencils or markers, but kids seem to get a kick out of “painting” a scene, so I’m recommending watercolors as the most portable paint medium).

Painting a vacation scene is a fun activity in and of itself, but you can then tie it to literacy if you prompt the kids to tell a story after finishing their painting. Challenge them to tell a story that uses their scene as a setting. If their painted scene has people or animals in it, they can become the characters in the story. As kids are telling their story, remind them to include a beginning, middle and ending as well as a problem and resolution. Kids can do this orally, or stories can be written down (or dictated if kids aren’t yet writing). If kids are proud of their work, this can be a fun addition to their vacation book journals (see Tip #21). Paint-a-Scene is a fun and unique way to combine art and storytelling (with storytelling being important for creative thinking, writing, and reading comprehension skills).

In Our Family...  We tried Paint-a-Scene for the first time yesterday on vacation. I had brought watercolors on our vacation, just in case. Since in the few days prior the kids had been taking breaks from the sun/water/sand to rest in the shade, I decided to bring the painting supplies out to the beach. When they were taking one of their anticipated breaks, I said, “Who wants to paint this beautiful beach?” I got immediate yeses and we discovered a fun vacation activity.


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