The Summer Slump
Summer can be a hurdle for many families – since kids and parents are burned out from the constant school and work routines. Vacations are planned and vegetation is imminent. However, keeping learning going throughout the summer does not have to be an arduous task. There are many resources that are simple and fun that will engage the hearts of any child and many adults alike.
Create a Summer Learning Calendar
Ask your kids what THEY want to do! Engage the entire family with coming up with some educational activities to fill your empty summer schedule.
Activities on the calendar can range from sports, entertainment or anything else that fits your family’s interests, just make sure you throw in some learning activites along the way. Having your children participate in putting the summer learning ideas calendar together is a great way to ensure that their interest will be held, as well as appropriate for the learning objectives you want to address.
Learning activities can include trips to local museums, zoos, conservation areas, libraries, concerts, and any other events that your family enjoys. Activities can have a focus pertaining to mission or service projects, math skills, research skills, or writing skills. The possibilities are truly endless and the events do not have to cost a great deal of money.
EXAMPLE CALENDAR WEEK:
Sunday: Game Day
Monday: collect books from the library on space for upcoming science center trip: what do we all want to see during our trip?
Tuesday: watch video about solar system and share facts about books we’ve read about science.
Wednesday: science experiments. Write down hypothesis and conclusion. Discuss which experiments that were the most fun.
Thursday: trip to the science center: Write one fact about each area we visited. Write down any questions you want to explore after our visit.
Friday: Address questions from science center trip. Work on any new science experiments interested in after trip. View interactive science sites via Usborne Internet Linked books.
Saturday: Write journal entry/draw picture of favorite activity for the week.
This is just a sample week focused on family time as well as the theme of science, wrapped around one trip to a local science center. The same type of weeks, developed around a theme or attraction can be developed to engage children and allow for learning objectives to be met, along with spending time together as a family.
Activities do not have to be drawn out and longer than the attention span of the family members, but can address skills and allow families to participate in activities they might not get to during the school year.
Calendars can also incorporate any existing summer camps, vacation bible school, or summer school objectives. For weeks where your children might be in different groups or perhaps participating in different activities, consider one question or additional activity that can allow everyone to work on the same lesson. Or you might decide to just allow individual journaling time, or reading time in place of a family activity.
The same applies for vacations – if you are traveling to a new area, or visiting family, you can plan specific questions about geography, math skills, or English, depending on what skills you want to address during this time.
Additional Ideas for Summer Learning
1. Board Games
Board games provide children with hours of fun. There are a variety of games that will allow children to utilize skills learned in school. Games like Monopoly, Life, Clue, Cranium, etc. engage children in a quest using money, funds, life skills, and most of all fun. The games listed above keep kids working towards their math skills and understanding of application of money. Games like Upwards, Boggle, Scattergories, and Scrabble will keep kids learning more about language arts and word formations. Many of these board games are inexpensive or can be found in garage sales or thrift stores.
2. Fun & Educational Websites
Kids are curious by nature. They need to explore and they do this by asking a variety of questions. Helping them navigate through the web will allow them to find answers to their questions. Independence is not necessary when browsing the web, but having an understanding of where to look for accurate answers will help them. Learning how to search the web for academic reasons will help them out in school when they need to do so for projects. There are also lots of kid friendly websites that promote learning with games.
3. DK Internet-Linked Books
I am a huge fan of the DK books. They come in all different varieties from sticker books, informational books, and their internet linked books. On their website, you plug in which book you’re looking at, which page number you’re on, and you are exposed to exploration of the topic that you can’t believe. They not only explain details about the topics you’re reading about, but they take you to additional kid friendly websites that expand on the knowledge learned. For example, if you’re reading about History and Mt. Vesuvius, and are looking on the DK page, you can then explore the general make-up of a volcano and how they are made. You can make your own volcanoes to determine how the lava would flow and if your volcano would be destructive – and you will have a basic understanding of geology. These books and website are a great deal of fun (even for me).
4. Explore Hobbies & Interests
Every summer I take my own children around my local Wal-mart or Michaels and let them pick out a few things that they can try out over the summer – from painting to sewing, latch-hook to crochet – there are a variety of materials for them to explore. Local thrift stores and garage sales often have abundance of hobby materials at low prices, and as long as kids are exploring new hobbies, this route is definitely less expensive. Hobbies keep the mind involved in something that also helps with fine-motor skills and dexterity in fingers, that you definitely don’t get from watching television or playing video games.
Learning opportunities are truly around us everywhere we go. Visiting local museums, checking out resources at the library, and keeping an eye out for fun and productive activities keep my family busy with learning over the summer.