Capturing Past Summer Memories: A writing activity for writers of all ages

This summer is like no other. So many fun activities we normally do aren’t even an option this year. Since the places we can go are limited, let’s take the time to reflect on past summer experiences (and add a twist!). These writing prompts are designed for adult and young writers alike.

Part I
I have so many wonderful summer memories: neighborhood block parties with water balloon fights, going to the amusement park and riding roller coasters, and [sob!] hanging out at the pool for hours. These memories that are so important to me aren’t written down anywhere, although I never want to forget them. It’s time to get them down on paper!

The summer prompts below serve several different purposes:

  1. To capture the memories for our own sakes.
  2. To enjoy reflecting on activities you may not be able to do this year.
  3. To serve as a writing exercise to get the creative juices flowing.

Here are some prompts to consider. Choose to write on as many topics as you want, but focus on one at a time. Really dig deep to remember the specifics of your past experience. Be sure to add sensory details (sounds, tastes, etc.)!

Vacation:

What was your favorite trip? Who went? What kind of transportation did you use to get there? What did you enjoy doing? What was some
thing you didn’t enjoy doing? What souvenirs did you get?

Swimming:
Where did you go to swim? Who did you go with? What did you do there? What was your favorite thing to buy at the concession stand? What’s the funniest thing that happened to you? What’s the bravest thing you did? Did you play any games in the water?

Summer Camp:
Where did you go? What were your favorite activities? Did you stay overnight? Who was in your cabin? Did you make any new friends? What was your favorite camp food? What was your least favorite?  What’s the funniest thing that happened to you? Did anything scary happen? What’s the bravest thing you did? Were you homesick?

Neighborhood:
What did you do in your neighborhood? With whom? Did you go to a nearby playground? What did you do there? Did you ever play games after it was dark out? How did you get around (walk, skateboard, bike)?

Amusement Park:
Where did you like to go? Who did you go with? What were some of your favorite rides? How did you feel when you were finally tall enough for the “big” rides? Were there rides you were afraid to go on? What else did you do at the park?

Beach:
What beach did you visit? How long did it take you to get there? Who did you go with? What did you do there? Did you bring a picnic lunch? Did you go in the water? What was the most impressive thing you built out of sand? What was the neatest or most unusual thing you saw there?

Rainy Day:
What did you usually do on rainy days? Did you go somewhere or stay in? Where did you go? Did you ever build anything? Did you play any games? Did a friend come over?

Add Your Own:
What other activity do you normally do in the summer that you won’t be able to do this year? What did you like about it? Who did you enjoy doing it with? Was there something you did that you thought you wouldn’t like, but did?

Part II
Now if you want to “create” a new summer experience, go one step further and…mash it up!

Turn one of your summer experiences into…

  • a fantasy adventure! Add a mythical creature or a superpower. Create a villain like no other to ruin your summer. Or come up with something (or someone) supernatural to save it.
  • science fiction! Have the amusement park exist on Mars or a distant planet. Invent new technology that makes summer camp even more fun.
  • a comic strip! Show an experience through panels. Invent dialogue.
  • a picture book! Split your text into pages and add illustrations (note: you don’t need to be a professional artist to do art! Drawing stick figures or even cutting images out of old magazines will do!).
  • a poem! Try capturing one of your memories in verse.

Part III
Store your memories somewhere safe to reflect on them again in the future. Maybe you want to create a time capsule with the whole family’s memories in it. If you plan to bury it outside, roll up the papers tightly, tape them to stay rolled, and slide them into a clean, dry, empty (wide-mouthed) plastic bottle to rediscover years later. (Note: you may have to cut the paper first so that it will fit in the bottle.)

Hopefully next summer we will return to our usual activities. But in the meantime, enjoy remembering the good old days of past summers past!

Please share your own favorite summer memory in the comments below.

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Natalie Rompella
Natalie is the author of more than sixty books and resources for kids, including THE WORLD NEVER SLEEPS (Tilbury House, 2018) and COOKIE CUTTERS & SLED RUNNERS (Sky Pony Press, 2017), her first middle grade novel. Visit her website at www.natalierompella.com
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