Happy summer! This teacher just traded her 80 students in for her four, full time kiddos! I am on full summer momma duty, planning their events, outings, down time, and educational opportunities. I scoured for companies that would reward my kids for doing something more than playing video games and watching TV this summer to give them a little something to inspire learning this summer.

If you’ve got kids or grandkids in your life this summer, you may want to try some of these engaging ways to motivate them.  Read on (and click the links) to get more details! We have it all, reading, writing, math, history, and my favorite- STEM projects!


READING & WRITING CONTESTS AND CHALLENGES:                                        

  • AMagicalSummerofReading: Scholastic is challenging K-8 students to enjoy  “A Magical Summer of Reading!,” Teachers or librarians can register their students  online where they will be given free access to activity packets, booklists, videos, and a log to record their reading time. One school in every state can win “Best in State,” by logging the most minutes. Best in state receives a Scholastic party kit and a recognition plaque to hang in the school. Check with your school or local library to see if you can access this fun contest.  DEADLINE: September 7.


  • PoeticPower Students between kindergarten and ninth grade are encouraged to open their minds to write a poem on a topic of their choice, up to 21 lines. The top 10 students in each grade division (k-3, 4–6, 7–9) will win $25 and a free book. Their teachers will also receive classroom supplies! DEADLINE: August 16.


  •  ChuckECheeseRewardsCalendar: Chuck E Cheese wants to helps parents keep their children ontrack this summer. You can download and track your child’s goals, whether they be reading, math, chores, or another goal you and your children set.  Keep track on the calendar. Bring the completed calendar to your local Chuck E Cheese to receive 10 FREE tokens. Check with your local store to make sure they participate. DEADLINE: Rolling.


  • Barnes & Noble: Barnes and Noble is rewarding children in grades 1-6 for reading this summer. Visit the link to download and print the reading log. Children need to read any 8 books this summer and record the title, author, and their favorite part in the log. The logs can then be turned in to any Barnes and Noble store by September 3, 2018 to earn a free book! The award books are also listed on the website.  DEADLINE: September 3. 
  •  FirstFinancial:  Do you have a First Financial Account? If you have one, or are willing to open an account for your child, they are offering a reading program this summer. Students can earn $1 for every book that they read (up to 10) and enter into a contest to win a FIRE 7 tablet, and school supply baskets.  The contest runs from July-August… and it sounds a like a good excuse to get your child a bank account if you don’t have one already! DEADLINE: August 31.


STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-MATH) CONTESTS AND CHALLENGES:        

  • Gameathon: For the 2018 National K–12 Game-a-Thon, the MIND Research Institute invites teams (teacher or parent coordinator with one or more students)  to design an original board or card game that solves a math problem. Teams create the games and instructions, and then take and upload videos of them being played to YouTube. The top five winners will take home a trophy, pin, art work, and be featured in a video. DEADLINE: July 16.


  • LegoStore:  Lego stores are offering free in store build events for children ages 6-14. Space and model quantities are limited, so make sure to register early for these events. Lego stores are located in Paramus, Freehold, Bridgewater, Cherry Hill, and Elizabeth.  DEADLINE: July 15.


  • HomeDepot:  Home Depot has joined forces with Discovery Education to encourage STEAM in classrooms and homes everywhere. They offer free kids workshops one Saturday of the month that include in store builds with at home extensions. They also have past projects posted for you and your kids to print and explore from home! Be sure to register at RegisterHome Depot. DEADLINE: varies.


  • WWIThankyou: Never Such Innocence is sponsoring an art/essay/song contest for students ages 9-16. Students are being asked to learn about and reflect on the first World War from a global view, and then create an expression of thank you to the generation that served, sacrificed and changed our world. There are some great prizes and even a chance to be featured in the Legion’s famous events that may be attended by the Royal Family, like the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. Click HERE for the full details and rules.  DEADLINE: September 11, 2018.


  • OWL: This is a fun website offering simple monthly contests with prizes like books, fun packs, and wireless headphones. Check out the website for this month’s contests that include your child’s summer playlist, snapping a picture of your favorite cat, and a crossword challenge!

DEADLINE: July 15 (each month varies).


  • Fourth Grader’s Park Pass: Do you have a 4th grader? Go to the link to register for your FREE  “Every Kid in a Park” pass that gives your 4th grader free entrance  to national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, and more. This might not be a contest, but it is a great freebie and opportunity for any mom with a 4th grade student!


Jessica Cicalese-Kurtz:  MA in k-12 Teaching and Technology, BA in k-8  Education, BS in Biology, Science and Engineering middle school teacher at Toms River Schools, K-8 Science curriculum writer for Toms River Schools and Ocean County,  independent Science workshop creator and presenter,  freelance writer, skin consultant,   wife,  and budgeting  mom of four who loves to travel, enjoy  nature, connect with animals, and read. I believe in living and loving every moment of life to its fullest! Go get your summer and all it has to offer!



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