Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Learning and Activity Ideas

It's so easy to fall into a slump during the summer months. We live in the desert, where temperatures in the summertime can soar to over 120 degrees, so we tend to hibernate indoors all season long. The swimming pool isn't even an option in the middle of summer, it's too darn hot! Naturally, the kids can drive each other (and their parents!) crazy during this time. Cabin fever is already setting in at our house, and we've only been "out of school" for a week. I have found a few ways to avoid falling into TOO much of a slump around here during the summer.

Get Outdoors

This is a bit of a no-brainer, but it's something I have to work at. We try to schedule a bit of outdoor time each day. We try to get outside every day right after breakfast. It's still hot, but the sun isn't beating down on us too badly yet. We play in the backyard in the mornings, because it's shadier and cooler than the front of the house. 

The girls love to ride their bikes and scooters, play with chalk on the sidewalk or their easel, or splash around in the sprinklers. They love to include our dog, Charlie Brown, in their fun! I've seen a ton of fun ideas on Pinterest  for summer outdoor play that I plan on doing this summer.

We just moved into this house a month ago, so we were unable to plant a garden this year like we usually do. Gardening is usually one of our favorite outdoor activities! We do have a few containers planted (mostly peppers and herbs) that the girls can help take care of. Gardening with kids is a great outdoor activity! They love to take ownership of the plants, and it seems like it's easier to get them to eat veggies they grew themselves. 

Have a Plan
I find that our days flow more smoothly when we have a schedule/plan in place. I have a loose schedule for each day. We don't have to follow it exactly, and there's wiggle room in case an activity ends up being longer or shorter than I had originally planned. It's nice to know what comes next each day, and I find that it keeps me on task better than if I didn't have a schedule written out. 

Schedule Time for Learning

Lots of kids tend to lose skills that they acquired during the school year in the summer. We homeschool on the same calendar year as the regular public schools, but I like to schedule time each day to work on skills with special hands-on projects, unit studies, etc. My kids also LOVE workbooks. I know workbooks aren't everyone's favorite thing, and they definitely shouldn't be the only thing you use, but they can be a fun supplement. My girls love the Brain Quest and Summer Bridge workbooks.

Limit Screen Time

  It is definitely easy to plop kids in front of the television with a movie or video game, especially in the summer. We really try to limit the girls' screen time all year round. They are allowed 30 minutes or so of television per day. They also have hand-held gaming systems and a wii, but play them pretty rarely. I LOVE this Technology Tickets idea from the Ducks in a Row  blog. What a great idea for putting a limit on screen time!

We used to put a movie on for the girls before bed, but stopped doing it after we realized that the movies were too stimulating to fall asleep to. We've since discovered the magic that is Sparkle Stories! They offer subscriptions to weekly story series. The girls LOVE Martin and SylviaStory Nory is another good audiobook site, and it's free! I also downloaded an audiobook app on my iPhone that we use when we're all out of Sparkle Stories for the week.

When all else fails - GO ON VACATION! We can't wait to get out of town at least a few times each summer.

What ideas do you have to keep kids busy and entertained all summer long? I will keep updating with our summer activities!

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