Homemade Summer School–an Introduction

Need some ideas for summer projects for the little ones? Feel free to borrow or be inspired from the ideas I’ve found from others, and ones of my own to help you find fun things to do with your kiddos this summer!

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I love teaching, but I love summer more. Infinitely more. I wanted this year to really have time with my four-year-old to make some memories in the best way I know how–by teaching him.
I’m blessed to have a little boy that LOVES to learn. He’s really smart and picks things up quickly anyway, but he truly loves the learning process. So I decided to try to work in ways to teach him things while we enjoyed our time together this summer. I’m pretty excited, and he is too. I don’t have everything figured out 100%, but I have a really good plan on what I want to do. You’ll have to stay tuned to how it plays out but so far our first two days of learning about landforms have turned out beautifully. One of us discovered a deep, unknown love of volcanoes!

So what, might you inquire, are we learning about? Everything! I wanted to teach him about things I knew were were doing, often do, or going to be doing anyway because…well, why not? Incorporate what you know and what you’re already doing, trips you plan to take, local venues and attractions. It is the easiest way to build a “curriculum” to teach. For us, we are blessed in Southern California to have many things local–from amusement parks to beaches, mountains, parks, museums…you name it. Here are some ideas:

So food is a big deal around here. We love to cook it, and eat it. It is the vehicle for celebrations, conversation and fun. So what better way to enjoy the foods you usually do than to incorporate your kids? There are lots of kid-friendly recipes out there and special tiny kitchen gadgets that are made for little hands. Super fun and easy way to combine your kids with a necessary activity! You can also incorporate this into…

So I wanted to teach my little guy about other cultures and people. I’ve picked our a few that are easier to understand or “see” and that have foods we like to eat so he can experience some of the world’s different culture. For instance, we will learn about Mexico, Italy, France and Egypt (and America, of course). I’ve found a ton of free online stuff that I printed…craft printouts and ideas, maps, worksheets, coloring sheets and recipes that correspond to these places. Didn’t take much effort, yet will be perfect as low-key activities for a four-year-old to do when he wants to learn.

Knowing we have a wedding in Fresno, and are planning a day trip to Yosemite this summer we talked about various landforms like mountains, rivers, oceans and volcanoes. It will be easy as we head to Yosemite (and the looooong drive to Fresno) to point out and show him some of these different landforms. There are a lot of free printables on this topic too, with maps and color, cut and paste activities. Randomly, my son found a passion for volcanoes so we bought a make-your-own volcano kit (with a excavate your own dinosaur fossil kid) at JoAnn Fabric store. Throw in a few books I found online about these same topics and you have a lot of “lessons” at your finger tips.

Finally, your own child’s interests and curiosities can help guide you toward cheap books to purchase and activities to find. My son wanted to learn about dinosaurs, space, mountains, rocks, food and the ocean. So for a total of about $50 collectively, I bought about five kid books on Amazon about various topics, a volcano kit, a dinosaur fossil excavation kit, and a grow your own crystal kit on top of the tons of printable pictures and worksheets. He’ll get to color, cut, paste, write and read all summer…which believe it or not, he loves to do. Later, we’ll visit Yosemite, SeaWorld, the Aquarium of the Pacific to also see some of these things live.

I hope you’ve been inspired in ways to help entertain and educate your littles over the summer! Check back in for my updates on how it is going, what works and what doesn’t.

Happy summer!

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