Read Play Create Summer Activities for Kids

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean learning stops. Sure the schedule might be a bit more flexible and we may not plan full theme weeks for preschool time, but we can do a lot of playful learning with summer activities inspired by picture books.

On days we stay home we love to read a story at the beginning of the day and then do an activity or two related to the topic of the book. And because I know you’d rather be out enjoying time with your little ones than researching ideas for your own playtime, I’ve gathered some ideas for all the best summer themes and put them all in one place for you.

Below you’ll find a book recommendation, a play activity, and an arts and crafts project related to nine themese that are fun to explore with kids in the summertime.

Playful Summer Activities Inspired by Favorite Books

Read Play Create-Playful Summer Learning Activities-Book recommendations, play activities, and art projects for the most popular summer themes for preschool

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Read Play Create Fish Activities for Preschoolers

Read: Ten Little Fish by Audrey Wood  (See full fish books list)

Play: Fish Play Dough Invitation

Create: Fork Painted Fish


Read Play Create Watermelon Activities for Preschoolers

Read: The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

Play: Watermelon Sensory Play

Create: Puffy Paint Watermelon Art by Crafty Morning

Continue the fun with a full week of watermelon play and learning with our printable lesson plans for home preschool and home preschool.


Read Play Create Shell Activities for Preschoolers

Read: Shells! Shells! Shells! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Play: Seashell Exploration and Sensory Play

Create: Painted Seashell Art

Coral Reef

Read Play Create Coral Reef Activities for Preschoolers

Read: Over in the Ocean in a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes

Play: Coral Reef Play Dough

Create: Egg Carton Sea Life


Read Play Create Beach Theme Activities for Preschoolers

Read:  Beach Feet by Kiyomi Konagaya  (See full list of beach books)

Play: Beach Sensory Play Small World

Create: Sand Castles that Last by Meaningful Mama


Read Play Create Jellyfish Activities for Preschoolers

Read: Peanut Butter and Jellyfish by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Play: Jellyfish Puppets by Picklebums

Create: Jellyfish Painting


Read Play Create Shark Theme Activities for Preschool

Read: Nugget and Fang: Friends Forever or Snack Time? by Tammi Sauer

Play: Shark Sensory Bottle by Stir the Wonder

Create: Shark Suncatcher by Buggy and Buddy


Read Play Create Camping Activities for Preschoolers

Read: When We Go Camping by Margriet Ruurs (See full list of camping books)

Play: Camping Small World

Create: Glowing Campfire Craft from Buggy and Buddy


Read Create Play Marshmallow Theme Activities for Preschoolers

Read: Toating Marshmallows: Camping Poems by Kristine O’Connell George

Play: Marshmallow Sensory Play

Create: Painting with Marshmallows by Fun-A-Day

More Book-Inspired Summer Learning and Play

Here you’ll find a ton of playful summer activities to do after reading nonfiction books by Gail Gibbons.

Gail Gibbons Books and Activity Ideas for Summer

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  1. Great post! Thanks for including our shark sensory bottle!.

  2. Great post! Thanks for including our shark sensory bottle!

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