MAMMA’S DIARY – DIARIO DI MAMMA
Summer activities can keep the mind and body active when school’s out. The problem is figuring out which activities best serve this goal. Of course, you want to balance some of the more educational pursuits with old fashioned fun. After all, you’re only a kid once. You want those summer memories to be magical and last a lifetime. In 2016, I had some success planning summer activities that appealed to the kids and were helpful. In other words, they were school ready come September. Discover what you can do this season:
I took a page out of the book of my son’s pre-school teachers. I made a calendar and dedicated each week of August to a particular theme. With so many ideas, I could have easily done this all summer long. For each day of the themed weeks, I would come up with a craft and a more educational activity. The week would culminate in an excursion or event (more on those below). For example, for Dinosaur Week, the kids put together dinosaur “bones,” which were actually cotton swabs, to look like fossils. Then, we broke open dinosaur eggs that I made using flour and coffee grounds with plastic dinos hidden inside. We had a dinosaur workbook and some other related books to read. The kids learned about the T-rex, triceratops, and brachiosaurus. Then, we would incorporate math lessons into the theme by counting dinosaurs, for example. Turtle week, superhero week (which was really about healthy eating and exercise), and kindness week rounded out the themes.
Books are a mom’s best friend. So, I picked up workbooks for each of the kids at the dollar store and on Zulily. I opt for the ones that are for the child’s upcoming grade. Some covered all subjects. Others were just about reading or just about math. Then, I would get a few fun ones, such as the dinosaurs workbook (which was also age appropriate). More recently, I purchased books for a $1 each at Target. The subjects of those books included the solar system, sharks, U.S. presidents, historic events, and the 50 states. I plan to incorporate them into new themed weeks this year. In the morning, even when we’re in Italy during the summer, my son spends about an hour doing “homework.” Some of the books are thick and others he finishes in one sitting. Either way, he’s brushing up on skills. Today, for instance, he went over colors, practiced writing his first and last name, and traced lines to work on handwriting.
Getting out into the world is a must during the summer. After all, for many people, this is the best time of year to take advantage of the outdoors. So, I tried to work a weekly outing into the theme weeks. We ended turtle week at Liberty Science Center, where we could see actual turtles and the traveling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle exhibit. During that week, we sung the Alphabet Song along with the TMNT characters, thanks to a YouTube video. We made a turtle out of a paper bowl and learned about different kinds of turtles. So, it all perfectly led up to our Friday trip to the science center. Then, we ended Dinosaur Week at Field Station Dinosaurs. Sometimes, we created stay-at-home events to fit our theme, and they were just as much fun.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money or even leave home to show the kids a good time. And teach them something, too. At the end of Superhero week, I hosted “Field Day.” I set up all the sports equipment we own, a few cones, and some mats in the backyard. We played tee ball and soccer. We threw around a football. Finally, we had some running races. I made the kids Field Day t-shirts with iron-ons cut on my Cricut. Then, the kids made their own victory badges. Also, they helped make a healthy lunch. Winning! The kids might forget lessons on formulas and sharks, but they will always have the memories.