Tuesday, May 18, 2010

summer plans

Abigail finished up preschool last week.  Immediately, she asked what she was going to learn all summer so she'd be ready for kindergarten.

Hmm, I thought to myself.  I was really looking forward to slow-paced days with no commitments where we would all just sort of be at home together.  And then I really thought about that and realized that with no planning our days would devolve into this:  cabin fever, a trashed house, and feelings of "we are doing the exact same thing every single day and going nowhere!"

Abigail did all her lettering herself--she's still not quite sure which way the tail on that darn "g" goes, but boy, is she inventive!
This is what the girls and I came up with:  a loose schedule where something fun is assigned to each day.  I decided to build on the fact that they are in that voracious learn-everything-about-everything stage and make that our little guiding theme (seriously, are you ever amazed at how much info small children soak up and how fascinated they are by EVERYTHING?  Today we spent a good long while talking about the differences between hinge joints and ball-and-socket joints--we even watched a few hip joint motion animations that I had on file from an ID client.  Inspired, of course, by the fact that they were dragging Isaac around by his arms and I was explaining why that was NOT a good idea).  And I also wanted to just have the chance to have fun together, because isn't that the best part of being in a family?--while not going crazy with overscheduling and still having time to run around in the backyard, work in the garden, go to swimming lessons, etc.  Key word:  simplicity.

So here's what we've been doing.

Monday is our "learning day."  We sat down together and picked sixteen things they were interested in (their suggestions ranged everywhere from "butterflies" to "how planes stay up" to "Niagara Falls" and "big bears.")  What we did this week was to cuddle up together, read a bunch of books about butterflies, and then we did a simple art activity with construction paper diagramming the life cycle of the butterfly. (Then the girls talked nonstop about pupae and larvae all day.)  The basic plan for this day is to learn about something (half-hourish) and then have a ten-minute hands-on activity.  Very simple.  My plan next week, after we learn about volcanoes, is to build our own and have an awesome baking soda-and-vinegar explosion.  Sweet!!

Tuesday is our art day.  Again, we just thought of a whole bunch of random art activities that we wouldn't normally do (coloring is normal, making something out of paper mache or getting out the poster paints requires more commitment).  Today we painted in those awesome little pre-colored watercolor books (no mess!).  I had to schedule this in because I'm not much of an artist so my first inclination isn't to pull out the crafty things (storytime, anyone?)

Wednesday is adventure day!  This is the one I'm looking forward to most.  Hikes, meeting friends for a picnic at the playground, children's museum, etc.  I plan on about two hours for this, since it's more involved.  We will probably meet up with friends for this off and on throughout the summer.  Tomorrow we're going to our tiny little local zoo and taking a picnic along with us. 

Thursday is our regular trading playdate with friends--one week they play at our house, the other week at theirs.

And Friday is library day, where we go stock up for the next week.  Hurray! 

This has really been fun for us so far.  I like the fact that it gives us something to look forward to every day and a little bit of structure, but it's not so involved that I have to stress about getting things just right. 

Have you done anything similar to this?  I'd love to hear your ideas!


Erin said...

This is great! We are doing something very similar except that I haven't assigned activities to days like you have. Well, I guess Monday is cooking day and we make some sort of FHE treat. Maybe i will have to adapt something like that too. And WHERE did you find those water color books? I have been looking everywhere for them!

Rachael said...

Erin, they were 89 cents at Target--and I, too, have been looking forever! They're over in the books section by the electronics, on the bottom.

Meghan said...

Maybe you need to borrow "Blood and Guts." They can learn all about the body and each chapter has dissection instructions for things you can get from the butcher (sheep's heart, anyone?).

Rachael said...

great idea, Mom! We have one book that talks about what's going on inside your body, but I'd like to get a better one--I was trying to explain the circulatory system the other day and I wanted a good diagram (we ended up just looking at the veins under our skin and listening to heartbeats). I'll have to check what our library has when we're there Friday.

Jen said...

I'm going to be helping David's cousin's wife do something similar this summer with her older girls (9 and 7). Much more in depth, I'm sure, since she was talking about math and other things, but still. I like the idea of having a theme of sorts for each week. I'll definitely suggest that, although I imagine I'm just going to be an extra adult rather than actually planning curriculum.

lettergirl said...

We have done similar things at our house. My faves:

One year my daughter and I did art projects based on local art exhibits, then we would go to see the "real" artist's work at the museum. It was great one-on-one time, as we did it while my son was at preschool.

This year will be our third annual Potluck Night. We invite all of our friends over every Tuesday night all summer long...it is an awesome chance for the kids to play together & grown-ups to catch-up. My daughter has learned the art of introducing new kids to the group (her "chore") and my son has learned to offer lemonade & keep it stocked (his "chore"). Sometimes we get 10 people, sometimes 40, you just never know!

As my kids get older, and their activities take up more time, I've learned to plan one special week in the summer -- this year based on a favorite book series. I'm hoping to get some other parents on board too.

Melanie said...

Fabulous ideas, Rachael! I feel like our days are all fun and games or all boring chores. These are great ideas- I think we'll borrow a couple of them!

Reba said...

so fun! Thanks

aLi said...

I need to come up with a schedule for this summer... I am going to be baby-sitting 3 extra kids (2 are older than my own) so I am going to have to make a game plan. Thanks for the tips!

Rachael said...

Lettergirl, I love the idea of a potluck night every week--that's really something I may have to implement.

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