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Summer Fun

1 Jun

If you’re having difficulty reading this post, click on the blog title.

Summer’s here and our family is ready for some rest and relaxation. How about you?

Click on the calendar above to download a month of fun activities for your whole family. We’ll be posting fewer blogs this summer so we can spend more time with our kids. We’re using this calendar in our house to provide a little routine and some ideas so the summer doesn’t slip by.

We really want to see what you do this summer and we hope you’ll post some pictures on our Facebook page. We have so many followers from around the world that and there’s so much to share to bring us closer together. We also LOVE to look at pictures!

Here’s hoping you and your family have a great time together and enjoy the summer, or winter, if you’re south of the equator

 

Prepping for Summer

24 May

Now that you’ve got your summer routine in set up, it’s time to start prepping so you’re not scrambling for activities when the kids are out of school. We have lots of ideas of things to have available for the kids and activities, but you should only choose the ones you feel comfortable doing. You might want to select two or three of the listed activities to prep for your kids’ summer.

Identify the major chores you want to teach your kids this summer and add them to your calendar. Find places you can volunteer with your kids. Discover what activities your library will have this summer. Research places you want to go on a field trip and find out their hours and directions.

Reading Programs: Gather the record sheets for the summer reading programs available to you. Kids of all ages can participate and often earn a prize for reading. It’s a great incentive. Here are some summer reading programs to try: Your library, Barnes and Noble or other bookstores, Scholastic Books, Sylvan Learning Centers, Half Price Bookstores, PBS, TD Bank, and Chuck E. Cheese.

Art Activities: This is one of the best lists of art materials and activities I’ve ever seen. The best thing is that everything on the list can be purchased at the dollar store. I’m going to choose 3-5 of the activities to have on hand because they are different than any we’ve done before. I’m definitely getting yellow highlighters for glow in the dark activities and plastic table cloths for easy to set up slip and slides. My girls will even use a lot of the ideas for babysitting.

Science Activities: Don’t be afraid, science can be as easy as having your kids mix vinegar and baking soda with eye droppers. Here are some other simple ideas: Make a leaf rubbing, bird feeder, plant some flowers, go geocaching, or melt an iceberg.

Writing Activities: Fill a basket with writing materials, make some shape books, covered books, accordion books.

Math Activities: Make a card holder and get a deck of cards, pick up some foam shapes for the bath tub, bake or cook something.

If you prep one thing from each activity now, you’ll have a trick to pull out of your sleeve at a moments notice. We even have great suggestions on our Pinterest board for you to check out. If you don’t have a Pinterest account, just ask us for an invite.

Also, we LOVE to see what you and your kids are up to this summer. Share some pictures with us on our Facebook page.

Daily Planning

23 May

Now that the big activities and events are on your summer calendar, it’s time to look individual days.

If you have younger children, you probably have a regular routine that you can continue during the summer. However, if you have a mix of younger kids and school age kids, it might not be so easy. Your school age kids aren’t used to being home with you every day and will want a plan that revolves around what they want to do.

Here are some suggestions to make everyone have a happy summer, and remember, this is a routine so it needs to remain flexible.

Before 9:00 Parents can do their things and the kids can have breakfast, sleep in, watch some cartoons, etc.

9:00 Everyone is out of their pjs, breakfast eaten and ready to start the day.

9-10:00ish Get in some time outdoors, play a game, do a simple art project, science experiment, run some errands, etc.

10:00-11:30ish Major day activity: Library, Volunteering, etc. Depending upon the age of your kids, you can incorporate the 9-10 time with this time.

11:30-12:30ish Make, eat and clean up lunch. The kids should help with all aspects of this

12:30-1:30ish Quiet time for everyone, even mom! Everyone retreats to their room for some time away from each other. This may mean naps, resting, reading or other quiet activity. We don’t recommend video or hand held games during this time because kids need to learn how to relax their body and mind.

1:30-4:30ish This is our get outside, learn how to play independently, go to the pool, have a friend over, tire the kids out time. Summer may seem like kids should stay up until all hours, but you will have less meltdowns and drama if the kids go to bed at a reasonable time. So use this time to get the kids worn out.

4:30-6:30ish Clean up, dinner prep, quiet play and dinner. This is a great time to have the kids help clean up after the outdoor activities. They can also help you prepare for dinner. At 5 years old, we think kids are ready to plan and cook a full meal with you at least once during the summer. Having them help you prepare daily meals will prepare them for making a meal on their own. It also gives you great time to talk to your kids. Younger kids can “cook” by playing with old spices and mixing bowls. Older kids may want to make pictures using left over cereal, dried beans, etc. while you cook. (Check out this idea our faculty member, Gretchen Stout, did with her kids at dinner time prep.)

6:30-7:30ish Special time with a parent. This is a great time to spend with mom or dad if they work outside the house. Or, you can spend individual time with just one child.

7:30-8:30ish Bath, bed and story time. Just because the kids went in the pool for the day doesn’t mean a bath isn’t important. The point of the bath is to set a bedtime routine and relax them for sleeping. You can make the bath fun by putting some glow sticks in the water and turning out the lights or fill the bath with lots of balloons. We’ve pinned a few fun bathtub ideas on our Pinterest board. Because it’s summer, you also don’t have to rush bath time, so let them play. After the bath, have the same routine about brushing teeth, putting on pjs and reading a story. Again, you don’t have to rush.

9:00ish Lights out and the grownups can spend some time together.

Mapping Out the Big Stuff

22 May

When I think about my childhood summer, I think about days on end spent outside swimming and playing. When I think about my own children’s summer, I think about scheduling. It’s unfortunate, I clearly know, but I function better with a routine and so do my kids. The most important thing I remember about creating our summer routine is that it is never set in stone and can always be changed.

My last blog gave you a video overview of how I plan my summers with my kids, and today I’ll break it down in to how I map out the “big” stuff. Since the school year is busy and exhausting that we often don’t take advantage of our great city or spend as much time doing the things that are truly important to our family. Our summer calendar allows us spend more quality time together and enjoying the things we love. Now that my children are older, we also have some major activities, events, and camps that they attend. Here’s how I make it all work.

First: The first thing I write on my calendar are: camps, vacations, mission trips, and any other events that have unchangeable dates.

Next: After those are in place, I give each weekday a specific activity. In our house, Monday is library day, Tuesday is volunteer day, Wednesday is major chore day, Thursday is school work day, and Friday is field trip day. Your family may want to make one day play date day or pool day. It just depends upon what works for your family and how old your children are.

Now that you see how I map out the major events, let me give you a few suggestions for the each day.

Library Day: You may not know all of the services your library offers; I know we didn’t. Here’s a list of some things your library may offer during the summer. Storytimes, art activities, guest musicians, performances, summer reading programs. We even found out that our library has a program for kids 12 and up that gives them the opportunity to review books before they are even published. My avid reader can’t wait to be part of that this summer. Teach your kids about all of the resources the library can offer them. Trust me, when they’re in high school they’ll appreciate it! Don’t forget to check out some books, too!

Volunteer Day: Did you know that even infants can volunteer? When my kids were ages 0 and 3, we would make a weekly visit to the assisted living home. The residents loved it! I will never forget the older woman who sat in her wheelchair and rolled a ball with my son who was a crawler at the time. At the end of our visit, she would always ask if we would be back. My 3-year-old would color or do a simple puzzle with the residents. They always loved getting her pictures when she was finished.

Some volunteer places have age restrictions but Meals on Wheels and nursing homes are always appreciative of children’s art work. (I’m sure you have a lot of drawings around your house you don’t know what to do with. ;)) Older children can help prepare meals, stuff envelopes for an organization, dust the shelves or clean pews at a church. There are so many organizations needing help, I’m sure you will easily find something that works for your family. (You can always contact Smart Mom U for volunteer ideas. We’d be happy to help you.)

Major Chore Day: Daily chores are great but why not get some help with major chores around the house. Aren’t kids closer to the baseboards than you? This is a great life lesson to teach kids about keeping their living area clean and healthy. Here’s a list of some chores your kids can do to help around the house.

School day: Even though school is out, it’s still important to keep those little minds engaged. Research shows that kids who don’t do any work over the summer lose 2 months worth of learning and they spend the beginning of the new school year catching up. If your kids are little, spend only 15-30 minutes working on some simple skills. Older elementary and middle schoolers should spend about an hour on some kind of school work. This summer, we’re going to work on our writing skills. Although my kids have learned good writing skills at school, we’re going to focus on learning how to narrow down a story topic, writing more interesting sentences, improving word choice. It sounds daunting but all I am doing is taking what they have brought home from school and helping them edit one or two stories during the summer. You can get more ideas for school-like activities on our website in our Summer School or Junior College. (P.S. Workbooks are good but not necessary. We do recommend Summer Bridge workbooks and have them for sale through Amazon in our website bookstore.)

Field Trip Day: This is one of my favorite days because our city has so much to offer kids of all ages. We have been on some field trips that weren’t so fun, but most of them have been fantastic. There are even some my kids request every summer. Some of the field trips we take are for learning purposes so I try to choose some that went along with what they studied during the year. For instance, they all learned about Kansas History so we will take a field trip to one of the sites that has costumed interpreters who will demonstrate what Kansas was like during the pioneer days. Other field trips are just to get out and have some fun. We may bring a picnic and some friends and try a park we’ve never been to. Younger kids may enjoy being engaged during a field trip and we have lots of ideas on how to do this, so let us know how we can help.

You’ll be amazed at how much fun you can have this summer with a little bit of planning. Don’t forget to contact us if you need some ideas.

The Calendar

21 May

If you have trouble viewing the video, click on the title.

Chore Charts

15 May

Does your child need a reminder about what their chores are and when they should be done? We’ve found a site that has 73 different chore charts that you can download for free; you do have to “Like” them on Facebook before you can download. There are tons of styles and designs to choose from.

We recommend putting the printed chore chart in a clear page protector or laminating it so you don’t have to keep printing them off. You can write on it with a Vis-a-vis or dry erase marker.

Click on the chore chart above to see the various styles.

Busy Moms Look Good

20 Apr
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