How to Build an Amazing Summer Learning Packet With Free Resources

As I discussed in an earlier post, summer is no time for nose-in-the-book learning. There are too many opportunities for hands-on, toes-in-the-mud education that should not be missed! However, without structure and purpose kids can quickly turn into a whiny, bickering mess. There is also that concern that taking a break from academics can lead to things such as “mathnesia,” where a child forgets her multiplication facts, etc. This is why I have put together a learning packet for my girls.

You can do this for your kids, too, and it can all be for FREE!

Here are the elements:

  • Books for reading.

Whether a read-aloud or a self-read, books are the primary way to keep learning going. There are so many ways to do this for free, the first would be via the library. My favorite way of doing this is to look up recommended titles online and then reserve them. Then, when I am out running errands, I simply pick them up and bring them home.

The second source for wholesome books is via our kindles. We currently own three of these, the basic, unlit ones. These devices have allowed us to enjoy classics that have either been out of print for years or would be uber expensive to purchase in their physical form.

Thankfully, Amazon offers an amazing selection of public domain books for free. In fact, there are so many of these available that it becomes bewildering when trying to decide which ones to download. Some are simply dogs; meaning they are so dreary and bogged down with unnecessary description that they are a burden to read.

However, since I am your friend and am always happy to help, I have compiled a short list of some that are absolutely delightful. The writing in these books is engaging and fast-moving, with the type of plot and character development that entices youngsters to read further.

First of all, I will list the authors which wrote extensively and are fun to read, especially for elementary-aged children.

James Baldwin

James Baldwin was one of the most prolific authors of school books for children at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th…He wrote over thirty books about famous people in history and retold classical stories. His publications numbered 54 volumes. It is estimated that 26 million copies of his works sold worldwide, including in China and Indonesia…He wrote more than fifty books, the most famous of which include Fifty Famous Stories Retold (1896) and Abraham Lincoln, a True Life (1904).


James Baldwin was brought up on the McGuffey readers and

James Otis

In 1880 he wrote his first, and still most famous (largely by way of a filmed version by Walt Disney), children’s book, Toby Tyler; or, Ten Weeks with a Circus, a story about an orphan who runs away to join the circus. Following the book’s success he went on to author numerous other children’s books, mostly historical and adventure novels. Like most writers of his era, he was astonishingly prolific, and a total of nearly 200 books by him have been identified.


Mr. Otis wrote a number of books specifically for boys, including a spies series.

Commodore Barney’s Young Spies A Boy’s Story of the Burning of the City of Washington

On the Kentucky Frontier A Story of the Fighting Pioneers of the West

Edward Eggleston

Eggleston was born in Vevay, Indiana [1837],… As a child, he was too ill to regularly attend school, so his education was primarily provided by his father. He was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1856. He wrote a number of tales, some of which, especially the “Hoosier” series, attracted much attention. Among these are The Hoosier Schoolmaster, The Hoosier Schoolboy, The End of the World, The Faith Doctor, and Queer Stories for Boys and Girls.


Alice Turner Curtis

Children’s and young adult author Alice Turner Curtis was born in Sullivan, ME. She lived most of her life in Boston, MA. [She] is the author of “A Little Maid” Series of books. Originally published by Penn, during the period from 1913 to 1937.


Actually, the little girls and I are enjoying A Little Maid of Ticonderoga together. This story begins with an illustration which teaches young girls the consequences of being mischievous and eating too many sweets, then goes on to teach about forbearance, kindness, forgiveness, and true friendship. It also includes a description of Ethan Allen, a hero of the Revolution, and some of the circumstances surrounding his heroic deeds. This is our second in this series.

Here are a few more free books in this series for Kindle:

A Little Maid of Old Philidelphia

A Little Maid of Massachusetts Colony

Each book includes moral stories that are not preachy and some solid historical content.

The above authors and titles are primarily geared for the younger readers, but there is more, such as a most important collection of stories for girls.

Here is a book which should be reprinted and made required reading for every Christian girl. It’s entitled, Fireside Stories for Girls in Their Teens.

It was written at a time when we had phones and electricity, but way before modern, progressive mores took over our culture. Scripture is included without being “preachy,” and the stories are relatable to real problems, with tough decisions being made in accordance with selflessness and devotion to God. One of my favorite things so far is this poem:

I would be true, for there are those that trust me;
I would be pure, for there are those who care;
I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
I would be brave, for there is much to dare.

I would be friend of all the foe, the friendless;
I would be giving, and forget the gift;
I would be humble, for I know my weakness;
I would look up, and laugh, and love, and lift.

Margaret White Eggleston

Some more authors are:

Andrew Lang (the colored fairy book series)

Thorton Burgess (fictional books about animals in the forest)

Don’t own a Kindle? No problem, There are multiple places on the Internet where you can read these books for free right from your laptop or smart phone. Try:

The Baldwin Online Children’s Literature Project

Project Gutenberg

Google Books

Internet Archive


  • Notebooking pages for the books.

This is a very easy thing to do, since I am offering some to you for a free download. Simply click on the graphic below:

  • Printed pages in areas of weakness or for retention.

As I mentioned briefly in my last post, this is a great time to zero in on the academics each child is struggling in, such as math or spelling.

Thankfully, there are a number of sites that still offer FREE printables in all areas. Here are just a few I gathered:


Plain and Not so Plain

Printable Worksheets

TLS Books

123 Homeschool 4 Me

Great Schools (These are done by DK, so they are very nice.)

K12 Reader

  • Something to keep everything together.

OK, so I live in the real world of moms where school stuff ends up under the couch cushions and in the underwear drawer. The best thing we can do is to make academic materials scatter and loss proof.

This can be done via a three-ring binder or a simple folder with brads and pockets. You might want to add a label or two just to keep down the confusion and squabbling, and a good addition and/or times table tucked in the pocket can save you lots of sanity (don’t ask how I know…).

The procedure.

Gather your printed sheets and organize them in groups for each day, such as a literature notebooking page followed by a few printed pages in math or language arts. Be sure and not include too many pages per day. Remember, the idea is to keep things light so you can still enjoy your summer.

Then do this:

  • Each morning (or evening) read some of the Bible narrative together. We’re currently in 2 Kings and loving every word.
  • Assign a chapter or two a day to be read (or read aloud) and then notebooked about it on the page(s) provided.
  • Have the child(ren) work through the page or two you provided.
  • Spend the rest of your day running through the sprinklers and slurping homemade popsicles.

And that’s it!

After you are all tired of free-wheeling it and crave more structure, get serious and go back to digging deeper. Meanwhile, make sure and enjoy those kids–they don’t get any younger, and before you know it they will be taking off on their own.

Oh, and as an update, we are just about to order the proofs for The Record Book so we can beta test it and start selling it, hopefully before the end of June!


10 thoughts on “How to Build an Amazing Summer Learning Packet With Free Resources”

  1. Thank you so much, Sherry. I had been printing out books for my kids. But my oldest is reading faster than I can print, so I took a leap of faith and got a basic Kindle. Your list will definitely help me get started on setting it up. Blessings, Carolina

  2. This list is fantastic! How do you find the time?! Thanks for finding time to save us all time :). You’re wonderful as always. So, does a kindle feel the same to read on as an iPhone? Reading on my phone makes me feel all weirdy and keeps me awake at night.

    • You are so welcome, Amy! I actually compiled all of this while I was looking for my own children, so it was a win/win 🙂 As for reading on the Kindle, it is much different than on a back-lit device, at least with the original kindle. You actually have to use a light to read it, and it doesn’t cause your eyes strain, etc. You don’t have the distractions you would have on, say, and iPhone or iPad. They offer refurbished ones for pretty cheap and periodically (especially around Christmas) they offer new ones for “only” $49 (I say only in quotation marks because sometimes $50 seems like $500!). Anyway, the initial investment seems to be paying off for our family.

  3. Great answer, thank you. I know it’s hard to completely explain what I mean when I say I feel “weirdy” 🙂 But I’m sure there’s people out there who know what I mean! I always hear about reading on kindles & I was always under the impression it was like any other tablet. Which kind of hurts my eyes to read on. So I’ll definitely look into that down the road. Thank you very much for the help!

  4. I have downloaded a couple of books and my girls have begun reading them this week. I had my eight year old try out a notebooking page and she loved it! thanks so much!
    Do you use a writing curriculum with your children to teach writing skills? Or do you just have them write about what they are learning? I have struggled with finding something to “teach writing” that didn’t feel forced, awkward, or full of silly activities. Would love your thoughts on it.
    Thanks again!!

    • I’m glad you are enjoying the books. They truly are engaging and interesting, and the moral lessons taught are through example and aren’t “preachy.” As for the writing curriculum, I think I have a solution coming out soon, part of it is up as Gentle Grammar on my blog (I will leave the link for the pdf’s of the first two levels below). There are actually four levels and we are getting all of them ready for publication as physical books right now. Hopefully, we can get them up and available for sale (and the last two for free download) very soon.

    • I’m so glad your girlies like the books–mind do, too (I even like reading them). As for the writing, we’re currently working on physical book copies (as well as free downloads) of all four levels of Gentle Grammar, which is a gentle, easy way of teaching writing to younger children. I will also eventually be producing a few books for older children as well.Here is a link to a post with a free download for the first two levels:


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