Where did the Spring go??? Summer crept up on me and has already been filled with vacations and summer camps. I have yet to have a single day where we are home long enough to even catch up on house chores, yet I need to organize our summer, like YESTERDAY, or else I will go bonkers. I need a plan and a calendar of events – that’s the teacher side of me – and a nap – that’s the exhausted Mommy side of me.
I have to say, our lack of a routine has brought out some pretty ugly behaviors in my kids (and myself unfortunately – just being honest here since we’re all friends), and I am going to put an end to that. So I am going to throw a lot at you guys at once so you can see our complete summer schedule, “school supply” list, and what we are learning this summer! If any of you are out there treading water like I am, I know that you’ll start floating along as soon as a schedule/routine/plan/ANYTHING is in place!
Here is our schedule for days that we don’t have anything planned:
1. TV goes off at 8 am
This gives Mommy enough time to wake up from my slumber, get the required amount of caffeine pumping through my system, and hopefully whip something like bowls of cereal up for breakfast (I am not a morning person).
This was a great idea by my friend, Kim! She sets aside worship time for her kids and they choose how they want to spend that time! They can create artwork, listen to music on a kid-friendly CD player, read their Bible, journal, dance, etc. It is a great way to instill personal time with the Lord as a necessity from an early age.
3. Outdoor play and snack
I am banking on no rainy days this summer! But if it does rain, we will probably pull out some toy bins that I will reserve for rainy days only. Other than that, you can catch us outside in the sprinkler!
4. Learning Activity and Lessons
More on this below!
5. Clean up and Chores
This summer I am introducing more chores to my 4 and 6 year old: sweeping, dishes, laundry, vacuuming, toilets, bathroom and more! Before they were helping out here and there, but now they will be carrying a lot more weight around the house. I do plan on having a daily schedule for this, but haven’t quite gotten that organized yet.
In my mind I have a picture of us all singing and making lunch together, but, let’s face it, I will be making lunch while they probably pull out all the toys they just picked up.
My boys have the option to either take a nap or have quiet reading time in their bed.
8. Designated Electronic Free Time
This time will be earned minute by minute this summer! More on that below.
After this, Daddy should be home from work and we will probably spend more time outside, working on dinner, and picking up for the evening.
This schedule will already have to start off really flexible as we have several weeks of camps and swim lessons that last the remainder of June, but at least my teacher self is more at ease with our plan.
SUMMER “SCHOOL SUPPLIES”
Now, that same teacher side of me also had to purchase some “school supplies” for this summer.
Big chart paper – the kids love when I teach and draw on here like we are in a real classroom!
Journal Notebooks – I am hoping that each day we will spend a few minutes either drawing pictures (my 4 year old) or writing a short journal entry (my 6 year old) to keep up these skills for when they enter Pre-K and 2nd grade in the fall.
Craft Supplies – these were all impulse buys that I will figure SOMETHING to do with them… pipe cleaners, card stock, a large roll of Kraft paper, colored clothespins (after I thought, “really, Casey? Was that a necessary purchase?”), markers, colored pencils and crayons
Behavior Chart supplies: dry/erase poster, PLAY MONEY (more on this later), stickers, and picture frames (not pictured)
Adventure supplies: magnifying glasses – my kids love to go exploring and we can only find one magnifying glass, so we got new ones.
Our crafts this summer will probably be super easy and consist mainly of card stock, pipe cleaners and random colored clothes pins (gee, I wonder why?). With our busy, unpredictable schedule this summer (is this how it is with older kids?!?), I will be creating on the fly!
THIS summer, however, I am switching things up a bit and we are going to focus on positive behaviors that we typically talk about here and there, but we will take the time to explore them in depth. These behaviors, or VIRTUES, will be taught and explored through role plays, crafts, songs (that we probably make up), journaling, drawing/painting, puppet shows, Bible verses and more!
GOOD BEHAVIOR + CHORES = ELECTRONIC FREE TIME
I am going to preface this part with a disclaimer: every one has different parenting skills and not every one will agree with the method that my husband and I have chosen for the summer as rewards for our children’s behavior and house duties.
Some people believe that you should not reward behavior with extrinsic motivators (stickers, toys, play money, etc.), but in our case, our children are really having a hard time listening the first time we tell them to do something. We are pulling this one specific trait out that we want to fix and will be rewarding them for listening the first time with $1 in play money. When they have successfully learned to do so, we will slowly replace the reward with high fives and positive talk.
Our goals for our reward system this summer are to teach about responsibility, positive behaviors, earning privileges and MATH: money and time. $1 corresponds with 1 minute of play time on their electronic entertainment of choice: video games, computer, or TV. This will help us enforce that these are all SPECIAL privileges, and that listening and behaving appropriately will help them earn those privileges.
Now, I feel SLIGHTLY more prepared for the summer! Do you have a summer schedule? Please share with us your plans!!!
Last Mother’s Day, my kids gave me a great planter for us to start a home garden!
My husband works at a factory and they frequently get shipments of equipment that come in these long crates that are perfect for starting a garden (especially because they are free). Keep your eyes peeled for wooden crates and pallets and you can get free planters as well!
This year we have a few more!
Now, this is a little intimidating for me because I do NOT have a green thumb… but my husband is a little bit better at watering…and my kids are REALLY good at watering… a little too good as they sometimes over water.
So many early childhood teachers will grow plants in the classroom for kids to learn the parts of the plant, how to care for a plant, and what plants need to grow: soil, water, sun. Here are a few activities for you to do at home to teach your kids about growing plants if you have or plan on starting your own garden at home.
1. Journal: Have your kids document plant growth.
Pre-schoolers – model drawing sketches of what your plants look like each week and then give them a crayon for them to do the same (may not look like much, but they will at least think they are drawing a plant). Introduce vocabulary such as plant, green, grow, sun, soil
Pre-K – have them add words to their drawings (even if their words are just a mix up of letters – write what they are trying to spell underneath). Vocabulary: the name of the plants, ex: bell peppers, parts of the plant
Kinder – write a sentence or two describing the plant. Vocabulary and discussion: the name of the plants, ex: bell peppers, parts of the plant, why plants are important
1st grade and above – a paragraph (minimum) documenting any changes they may see, how long they watered, what time of the day they watered, etc. Vocabulary and Discussion: the name of the plants, ex: bell peppers, parts of the plant, describe why plants are important, how they reproduce, nutrition and the benefits of eating home grown foods
2. Predict: Have your kids predict what is going to happen throughout the summer with their plants, use your journal from above to help document, then calculate results by a certain date at the end of the summer.
Calendar Math: Using a summer calendar, mark the day you plant your plants. Have your kids each choose a different date in which they predict they can start picking their ripe produce.
Measuring: Using a ruler, guess the size of the produce and how tall the plants will become by the end of the summer. Have them draw this out on poster paper to compare at the end of the summer.
Counting: Predict the amount of produce each type of plant will produce.
Science – Weather: predict the number of rainy days versus sunny days
Comparison: predict what type of plant will produce the biggest/smallest, most/least amount, greenest, etc. produce
3. Experiment: Get several seedlings that are the same type and are all similar in size. Experiment with different amounts of sunlight or soil type or watering schedule (choose one) to see what is the optimal amount for that particular plant. Plant several seedlings in each of the different conditions to get the best average outcome. And, go back to the first activity: journal 🙂
4. Create a Cookbook: As your plants are growing, decide as a family what you are going to use your plants for and create a family cookbook together! Take pictures of your growing plants to include in the “ingredients” section of each recipe.
BONUS: Include a raw versus cooked taste test of each fruit/vegetable to include that 5th sense that we often don’t get to use in a classroom.
5. Dissect the Plants:
Science: learn about the different plant parts including the parts you don’t see… inside the stem, the roots, inside the fruit and flowers. When you are finished, use the roots, stem, leaves, flowers to make art on a poster board.
Math: Compare/Contrast the different types of plants: length, leaf shape, fruit, root length and thickness and number of roots
Art: Create leaf prints by placing a piece of paper on top of the leaves and using the edge of a crayon to etch the shape of the leaf. Draw the type of produce next to each leaf.
BONUS: One of my friends started a private Facebook group for some of her friends who wanted to start a home garden. On it we are sharing pictures and knowledge with each other and when the produce is ripe, we will be having garden picking parties! It is nice to see what everyone else is growing (and these ladies know way more than I do about gardening so it’s helpful too)! I encourage you to start a similar group for your friends with green (or slightly unripened) thumbs.
It is so wonderful seeing how excited my kids are to watch our plants grow! Right now, we just have bell peppers and cherry tomatoes, but we hope to fill our other planters soon!
Leyson and I tore a paper plate in half to draw our measurements of the peppers (paper plates are sturdier than sheets of paper thus easier to measure the peppers on). We used a marker to draw a line on each side of the paper and later use a ruler to measure from line to line. We numbered our peppers 1, 2 and 3. Measure them week by week so you can see how much they grow in one week.
How does your garden grow??? How have you involved your children in your garden?
Summer break is about halfway over here in Louisiana! If you are just now joining our summer quest to never hear the phrase, “I’m bored,” please go back and read Part 1 and Part 2 of our summer learning curriculum and activity schedule. On the right hand column, you will see all of the summer schedule posts neatly organized for you to have quick access!
WEEK 5: OCEAN LIFE
So I apologize for the delay in the post about Ocean Life. I’d love to give you my reasons (my computer crashed so I’m having to sneak around to borrow one and we went on a vacation) but no one wants to hear those!
The kids had a great time learning about Ocean Life despite the fact that they never really showed too much interest in Finding Nemo – I’ve tried… what’s not to like about it? But as you all know, kids tend to have their own opinions about things no matter how much we try to mold their little minds ;-).
nywho, our favorite activity from the week was our Ocean Life PUPPET THEATER! This activity was super cheap and was instant entertainment for DAYS! It is also a great way to encourage storytelling which increases skills in reading comprehension, writing and illustrating stories (this skill starts as early as kindergarten) and oral communication.
Painters Tape, poster board, scissors, long skewers/craft sticks, 1 blue and 1 yellow plastic table cloth, black sharpie marker
To make the puppets, I used a foam board. YOU, however, should NOT use a foam board.
That sucker was a pain to cut out all of the fishy shapes with all of the twists and turns. I ended up breaking most of the fish when cutting them out and had to play “doctor” to fix them all back together (great tie-in to our Community lesson). Just use 1 white poster board and it will save you time, energy, and unnecessary frustration.
I drew the fish onto my board using a black sharpie. The kids painted the fish and then went down for their naps (good timing on my part so they didn’t have to wait for the paint to dry). I cut the fish out and taped the long skewers to the back of the fish. (I ran out of skewers and used Popsicle sticks for the starfish, crab and crawfish* since they don’t swim too far from the bottom of the ocean anyway).
*I understand that crawfish are not normally found in the ocean, but as they have been raised in South Louisiana, my kids insisted we have a crawfish in our puppet show.
After nap time, the kids could not WAIT to put on the puppet show! My daughter’s room was the PERFECT theater because 1. she had the audience (stuffed animals galore) and what show would be complete without an audience? and 2. her closet made the perfect stage for the show!
We took the blue table cloth and hung it with tape from the clothes rod, and the 2nd table cloth (we used blue and taped yellow tissue paper to make “sand” but just using a yellow table cloth would be so much easier) was taped across the doorway of the closet at door knob level. This gave the kids enough space to crouch under and behind the yellow (sand) curtain and in front of the blue (ocean) curtain.
James had the idea to make a sign with the title and performers names and hung it on the closet doors for all of the audience (stuffed animals) to see. He also had the idea to use one of our lamps as the spotlight and designated his Mimi to be the lighting technician.
There are several different ways you can perform plays with your kids!
1. REENACTMENT: You can take a story that your kids know really well (a great one for this theme would be The Rainbow Fish or even Finding Nemo) and your kids can reenact the story. To simplify this, you can make sequencing cards for your kids to act out:
1. Nemo and his dad lived in an anemone.
2. Nemo swims out to sea and is captured by the scuba diver.
3. Nemo’s dad and Dori search for Nemo and meet a lot of friends on the way.
4. Nemo makes his great escape.
5. Nemo and his dad are reunited.
2. MAD LIB: You write a short story out and leave blanks for the kids to fill in.
Once upon a time there was a fish named name. He was color and color. His best friends was name the ocean animal. Together they liked to activity.
3. NARRATE: You can narrate the story and the kids can move and talk for the puppets.
4. STORY WRITING: This is great for older kids! Your kids write the story and include a beginning, middle and end!
5. TAKE TURNS WRITING THE STORY: Each person adds a new adventure to the story! Things can get a little crazy here!
Person 1: “Once upon a time there was a fish named Bob.”
Person 2: “Bob loved to swim to the middle of the ocean.”
Person 3: “He made lots of friends along the way.”
Person 1: “His best friend was a starfish named All Star.”
Person 2: “All Star loved to play basketball in the water.”
As for my kids? They preferred to #6, JUST PLAY! Sit back and see what your kids come up with! This is my favorite and each of my kids had such different ideas for the puppets that they each took turns playing puppeteer and audience member. They loved watching what the other came up with and would build off of each other’s stories! I love how these little minds work!
James’ story was great (says the biased mommy)! It was about a little fish who met a shark who wanted to eat him. All of his fishy friends decided to go talk to the shark to stop him from eating their friend. They offered him a peach instead. The shark enjoyed the peach so much that he never ate a fish again and the little fish and the shark became best friends. The play was called “The Fish, the Shark and the Peach” (fitting).
Leyson’s story took place in the river (Mr. 3-year-old wanted to create his own setting) and his fish spent the whole time swimming up and down the river. And then the rest of the time his play sounded very similar to big brother’s play.
CRAFT TIME FAIL:
Another activity we did was a near-complete failure. I say near-complete because the kids could care less that it didn’t work as it was intended.
My kids and I ATTEMPTED to make sensory-bag fish bowls. We cut out a hole in a paper plate and glued it to another paper plate – then decorated the plates, of course. We filled plastic zip-lock baggies with blue hand soap (gel probably would have worked better) and put small plastic fish inside. Then we placed the bags inside of the paper plate hole and made “fish bowls,” but yeah, they didn’t work. The kids DID enjoy squishing the fish around in the sensory bags! But then they started leaking because Mommy bought the cheap bags. ::womp womp::
Here is the craft that gave me the idea to make a sensory bag, but I should have just stuck to these directions instead:
“Read it again, Mom” has so many great book ideas, songs and crafts for this theme!
While a lot of students across the country are just kicking off their summer, Monday starts week 4 of our summer vacation! If you are just now joining our summer quest to never hear the phrase, “I’m bored,” please go back and read Part 1 and Part 2 of our summer learning curriculum and activity schedule.
WEEK 4: COMMUNITY
This week we are learning all about where we live and the people who keep our community safe and functioning.
Vocabulary: community, map, doctor, dentist, teacher, police officer, fire fighter, waiter, waitress, chef, mail person, garbage man/woman, plumber, electrician, cashier, construction worker, librarian (the list is endless)
Role Play/Dramatic Play:
“Dental Health” From the Hive Use Jumbo Legos, play dough and yarn to floss your patient’s teeth!
Role play different occupations so your little one can get a better understanding on what roles people play in our communities.Use an old purse as a doctor bag, head phones as a stethescope, ace bandages, bandaids, thermometer, medicine dispenser as a shot, etc.
Use a play tool set to pretend to be construction workers and discuss the different types of things that need to be fixed in a community: houses, buildings, roads, signs, etc.
Take turns being a chef/waiter/customer, cashier/shopper, teacher/student, doctor/patient, etc.
Here is a great resource for dramatic play as community helpers: Growing by Grace.
Reading:LMNO Peas by Keith Baker
Check it out on Amazon!
My kids absolutely love this book and I love this book because it talks about different community roles with each letter!
Visit your local library and you can find books on each different occupation.
Writing and Field Trip: Write letters and teach your older child how to address envelopes. Decorate a box to use as a mailbox to deliver the letters. Take it a step further and visit your local post office to learn how the post masters deliver mail.
Field Trip: Schedule a field trip with your local fire station!
Safety: Help your child memorize your address and phone number and Mommy and Daddy’s first and last name.
Teach your child how to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency (and also teach that we do NOT dial 9-1-1 if it is not an emergency).
“Dental Health” From the Hive
Math: Counting teeth. Roll the dice and add the correct number of marshmallow teeth.
Subtraction: “Sally lost 3 teeth. How many does she have now?” Use “pliers” to pull the teeth like a dentist.
Social Studies: Draw a map of your neighborhood/community and give it to your child as you walk around the neighborhood (or since we live out in the country, as we drive around our town).
Reading Craft for Social Studies: Make a book. Either draw simple pictures or use your camera (or Google clip art) to take pictures to illustrate your book. Each page builds on the bigger picture of where you live.
I live in a home. My home is on ________ Street. My street is in a neighborhood. My neighborhood is in a town/city. My town/city is in a state. My state is in country. My country is on the continent. My continent is on the planet Earth.
I will be posting our completed crafts and activities soon from the past few weeks, so please stay tuned!!! I also pinned BEAUCOUP activities and crafts for Community Helpers! Please visit The Mommy Teacher Pinterest Board for an overwhelming amount of incredible ideas! Comment below with any other ideas for activities to teach about our communities!
Yesterday I posted about SUMMER SCHOOL and how we will be bridging the summer gap between Kindergarten and 1st grade for my older son, with my 3-year old tagging along in our school adventures, too. However, yesterday’s post was mainly about desk work which will only be taking up no more than 20 minutes per day.
Each week we will have a different THEME which will allow us to EXPLORE in depth different things that kids already ask a bazillion questions about. The days will be filled with discussions, field trips, science experiments and art projects that go along with that week’s theme. Will you join us on our journey to have the best summer ever???
Below I have posted activity ideas for weeks 1-3! Enjoy and help me brainstorm more ideas and comment below!
WEEK 1: SEASONS (May 27-31)
Here are a few ways that we will be exploring seasons:
And Dr. Jean’s song Macarena Months. If you remember the Macarena, you can do those motions along with this song. Who doesn’t love Dr. Jean and the Macarena? Double bonus!
Art: 4 Seasons Art Project: We will be gathering lots of random items around the house to design landscapes for each season (ex. cotton balls for snow, green leaves outside for summer, Popsicle sticks for trees, etc.)
Math and Gross Motor Skills: Sorting Clothes and dressing for each season! We haven’t put away all of the winter wardrobe yet, so we will sort through clothes and create outfits for winter, spring, summer and fall.
Writing: “What is your favorite season?”
Vocabulary: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall/Autumn, temperature, months of the year
Science/Math: reading a thermometer, exploring the tilt of the Earth and how it affects the seasons
Math: Calendar – taking a look at the summer months and seeing what we have planned
Reading: We will be heading to our library each week to choose books to accompany our themes. This is where it’s great to get to know your local librarian because he or she can help you find the books you need – maybe even before you get there!
Science: making water tornadoes with 2 -liter bottles. Fill one 2-liter 3/4 of the way and duct tape the two openings to the bottles (leave the caps off) together, turn your bottles upside down and gently move the bottles in a circular pattern to make a water spout inside.
Please post below if you have any other activity ideas for our first 3 weeks of summer! I hope you will join us on our quest to have the Best Summer Ever!!! Stay tuned for updates on our activities, projects and ideas for the our other themed weeks!