I was thinking about the seasons and remembering the scripture – ‘a time and a season for all things’ and thinking about what the summer months give us. They are a great relief from the gray days of winter and offer us the promise of fresh air and sunshine, tasty fruits and veggies from our gardens, hours to spend playing and working outside refreshing our souls, exercising our muscles, and clearing our thoughts! Those warm inviting summer days offer us relief from the stress of winter-time routines, provide us precious moments to ponder the beauty of life around us, and entice us outside for many fun-filled days chalk-full of exciting adventures!
In the cooler part of the day you will find us doing the usual summertime ‘work’: gardening, yard work, washing the car, taking care of the animals, or fixing up the house; but when the thermometer starts rising that is when you will find us in the shade doing a messy science experiment, cuddled up with a good book on the grass, working on our hobbies, developing our talents or interests, or finishing up the projects that we just don’t have time for during the typical ‘school year’.
I keep an art box stocked at all times for those creative moments. I have also been known to fill a jar with slips of paper of ideas we have brainstormed, and when we have an “I’m bored” moment or “I don’t know what to do”, they can choose a slip from the jar and happily skip off to another activity. (Some of those activities might include page of math problems, a topic to write a story or poem, do a puzzle, paint a picture like Van Gogh did, a math or science problem to solve, go play with your Legos, go read about a famous scientist or mathematician, or grab your science notebook [and a magnifying glass, colored pencils, bottle of water, a disposable camera, binoculars or whatever] and go observe this 10’ area for an hour and tell me what you see or lets go on a nature walk today. Make it fun and challenging.)
I also heard of a fun idea of using the Alphabet each week during the summer and studying something that goes with each letter for a week. For example: A – Study Ants, Airplanes, Aristotle, or Alaska. Let the kids help decide!
One summer we also got together once a month with a few families and did a summer co-op. That was great fun. We had a water play day one month and became a Knight another time.
Don’t forget to provide some large cardboard boxes and some cheap poster paints and let the kids imaginations soar from play houses to pirate ship adventures. These provide weeks of delight until the boxes finally wear out.
We have enjoyed keeping a Nature/Science Journal during the summer for those exciting moments of when wespy something unusual while bird watching or making observations. Or maybe a chance meeting of a perfect specimen of Praying Mantis (which my daughter took a picture of and we later included in a lap book about bugs). These journals provide a great place for your kids to practice their drawing skills and learn how to use colored pencils.
One of our most interesting observation studies was when I had our youngest daughter observe our mint patch for a full week at different times of the day. It was very interesting to see how much life there was in our little 12-foot mint patch. There were so many different insects and so many different varieties of bees and wasps. We had no idea it was so populated. We just had never taken the time to really look. It gave her a chance to draw conclusions as to why there was more insect activity at one time of the day than at others. The best part is that my daughter’s personal observation skills became more detailed as the week drew on and I learned to ask more searching questions. For example, she noticed a butterfly in the area. “She wrote I saw a butterfly.” Okay, what about the butterfly? What color was it, what kind, and what was it doing? She also learned to observe the weather and the temperature. This study, along with the cool insect pictures she had collected, became the kickoff to an interesting unit study later on in the fall on BUGS. She made a really fun lap book to compliment her journal entries. It ended up being a very interesting and fun project for all of us.
We have also participated and enjoyed our local college’s summer enrichment classes and the library’s summer reading program. We are frequent visitors to the library during the summer months and enjoy getting a chance to know other authors.
I also like to use my more carefree summer days to think about and start planning our next school year along with input from the kids. This is a great time to start gathering supplies and mapping out our activities.
Another summertime favorite is to put a large map on our kitchen table of the United States. (I put the map on top of a tablecloth for a little color and then cover both of them with a plastic vinyl.) Then we travel the country together. We choose a state to study. If there is a special item of interest, or person of history we want to know more about, we might take a short “side-trip” and learn briefly about that. She likes to keep a little log of places she has “been” and she would like to go in real life if the opportunity presents itself. I have also printed off a blank outline map and had her do some map work, which is also placed in her log. Occasionally, I give her an extra assignment to a state: write a poem, paint a scenic picture or design a travel brochure. When we were in Georgia I had her list the 300 + uses of the common peanut. We also would find a recipe from that state to try. It was great fun.
My daughter also made up her own game of putting the capitals on a circle disc, and timing herself as she tried to match all the capitals with their states on the map. She got pretty fast at it, much faster than mom could do! This is also a favorite activity for when friends come over.
This summer we are headed down Route 66. It should be fun, come along for the ride! The summer is yours to explore ---- have a great trip.
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