Tag Archives: education

How to Make a Summer Plan for Kids

School is rapidly winding down – what is your summer plan for your kids?

I work part-time and am home with my kids for the most part. As a planner myself, I don’t do well with much unstructured time. In fact, might be the one lousing around the house saying “I’m bored!”

OK, maybe not.

I think it’s healthy for kids to have a break – they have a recovering perfectionist as a mom, so they need to see me resting and set a good pattern of rest for themselves.

However, I believe a loose plan sets us all up for happier, more engaged days. Less boredom equals less fighting (I hope!), more brain activity, more fun, and more relational capital.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV)

How to make a summer plan for kids

How to make a summer plan for kids

1. Plan vacations, camps, and VBSs first.

We have a staycation planned for this year since we took a large vacation last year and also had to replace our van. We’ve set events for each day and a budget for the week. That was the first thing on the summer calendar.

Plan vacations first - summer plan

We’re hosting a front yard Bible club this year through our church, and they all happen the same week. Now that we have a kiddo in school, I’m really excited to see this pulled off!

I have already planned for each of my kids to attend one summer camp – using budgeted money that won’t be spent on preschool. I decided to not have their camps on the same weeks so that the big kids get a little more of their own time with me. Well, with me and baby Katherine that is. 🙂

2. Plan adventure days and bucket list items next.

Is anyone else as excited as I am about Finding Dory coming out?? That might have gotten on my summer calendar ahead of the kids’ summer camps.

Look at all of the possible adventures in your city. Check out that local Pinterest board you’ve pinned to but never thought about again. Search your city’s blog for fun things to do.

We’ve lived in our city for 8 years, and there are still many things we haven’t done yet. Some of those are on our summer plan list. A few have hard and fast dates; others are just on “the list” for those free days.

There are also so many fun backyard adventures to have – I have a ton pinned here:

 

3. Plan the “standard” day last.

Once you have the big items on the calendar and a few of the one-off adventure days planned, think about what each “regular” day should look like.

Things I considered when making my loose, daily plan:

  • Spiritual goals: Evaluate where your kiddo is spiritually and choose some things that might enrich them spiritually. For the older teen, this might be your summer camp. For the grade-schooler, VBS might be your go-to. I encourage you to also think of a few things you can guide them in.
    • Maybe memorize 1 scripture applicable to them each month with a celebration at the end of the month (Fighter verses is a great app for memorizing.)
    • Perhaps the great reader can check out the Adventure Bible.
    • Your preschooler might be mastering the ideas of the gospel through loving conversation and discipline.
  • Educational goals: Our grade school teacher was great about giving me the growth areas for our kiddo as well as some great summer tools. For my kindergartner, I’m making goals for
    • reading
    • writing
    • math
  • Physical goals: Summer means water! Swim lessons or just having water time for familiarity is a big deal in our family. Maybe your child has a sport they regularly play and can incorporate some extra drills in a regular day.
  • Fun goals: What’s something fun your kid can’t always enjoy during the school year? Here are some ideas:
    • Video games (ours are off-limits on school days).
    • Play dates
    • Park days and picnics
    • Cooking kid-friendly recipes
    • Leisurely imagination or dress up play
    • Challenges (such as summer reading, music, or engineering)

Whew! That’s a lot, and really there’s more you can consider – in fact, I’d love it if you would share ideas in the comments or on the Facebook page!

4. Structure the day, but keep it loose.

Our regular day is going to look something like this:

Breakfast and get dressed

School activities, about 30 minutes. I will use a handful of on-level tasks plus a challenge task each day.

  • Kindergartner:
    • Handwriting – Name and Title case practice, Proverb a Day, Sentence structure practice
    • Puzzle worksheets – crack the codes/word search/crosswords (math and reading)
  • Preschooler:
      • Letter writing and sounds – I really like the School Zone books

Guided craft or free craft time with bin of supplies. Incorporate Scripture.

Physical Time! Kid yoga, tag, trampoline, play date, going on a walk or pool time

backyard fun - summer plan

Lunch, kid cooking when time/interest allows

Reading: 2 books or Smarty Pants cards as a group. 2 chapters of reading each day for the Kindergartner

Quiet Rest Time – I will have separate areas for the kids to have quiet play time with toys/books for a set time

Video game time – We love the educational app Starfall! My child who is not as interested in learning loves it, and I’ve seen her improve in letter sounds yay! It’s a steal for $35/year.

If there’s time left in the day, we will have more free play, which my kids love: legos, dolls, puzzles, board games, science experiments, backyard digging and play, etc.

This looks a little too structured, but I guarantee you, there’s time for it all plus some. Once I’ve made a plan, I stick to it generally and don’t feel any guilt whatsoever if I decide to change it later! After all,

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21, NIV)

As always, I will continue to re-evaluate my kids’ needs against the existing plan and modify as necessary. I’m looking forward to a (semi-planned) summer of fun!

 

 

LeapFrog Ultra eBooks Review

Awhile back, LeapFrog sent us the LeapPad2 to review. I was really impressed with it then, and now that we’ve been using it for a few months, I’m even more impressed with it. (Woohoo!) And since my almost-3 year old Samuel only gets to play with it a few times a day for a certain amount of time, it’s still one of his favorite toys.

One thing I mentioned in my review is that the LeapPad2 has a lot of great educational games to offer for grade-school kids. For the younger child, we mostly watch educational videos, play simple games, and read ebooks. Which, trust me, is plenty for Samuel!

He’s a pre-reader, so I was excited when LeapFrog wanted to send us a couple of the “Learn to Read” Ultra eBooks to review. Ultra eBooks are different from regular eBooks in that they are supposed to grow with the reader.

Here are the things I really like about the Ultra eBooks. A * denotes items that I think are unique to the Ultra eBooks.

  • You can touch around the pictures to hear sound bites or see more action.
  • Mini-games are integrated throughout the books. The games are sometimes just for fun, but often they test vocabulary and sentence structure.
  • The child has the option to read the book themselves, record themselves reading, or hear it read aloud.
  • Samuel seems to enjoy them just as much as videos.
  • * The books are written at 3 different reading levels. As the child masters more reading challenges, the reading level can automatically adjust with them. Or, they can choose a reading level.
  • With a simple touch, any word on the screen will be read and sounded out.
  • * As the words are read, the word being spoken is highlighted and also dances up.
  • The stories, music, visuals, and games are all really fun.
  • It’s a fairly independent activity. The child can work with the books all on their own.

Here are the only things I could find wrong with the books:

  • They’re pricey. Ultra eBooks are around double or more than what a regular eBook costs. Spending $20 on a book, even one with all of the reading bells and whistles, feels like a stretch to me. So far, I have bought only regular ebooks because of the sticker shock of the Ultra eBooks. I can see why they cost that much, it’s just a bit hard for me to swallow. But I definitely have been looking at them and waiting for the right one – like a favorite story or character – because they are definitely an upgrade from a regular ebook. (Also, the app cards make great stocking stuffers and birthday gifts!)
  • The ones I received are in the “Learn to Read” series. The subtitle is a bit of a stretch. While I do think Samuel could learn some sight words and have some great reading, vocabularly, and sentence structure practice (when he’s ready for that), I don’t think the books alone would teach him to read. I’m pretty sure that’s not what LeapFrog intended me to think, though. 🙂 I am one of those hands-on people, so I love watching what his teaching toys do and trying to expand on them and use them as tools. If that’s what you’re looking for, then an Ultra eBook is a fun addition to your reading toolbox.

I hope this helps if you’re considering buying an Ultra eBook for a LeapPad or Explorer. I definitely will buy another one in the future! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments. I’d be happy to help!