5/22/2015

10 Ideas for Summer Fun {Guest Post}

I have a special guest post for you today from a beautiful friend and sister in Christ, Theresa. She is a local friend who blogs from her heart at Heavenly Glimpses. I am always inspired by her writings, so when I asked her if she'd write a guest post for my blog, I was thrilled that she was willing to let me share her ideas for summer fun! I enjoy getting together with her and her children in the summer for ice cream and visits in the park and look forward to warm sunny weather to do just that!

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We have the freezer stocked with frozen treats, books out, prize box filled, and just days left until summer vacation! We’re planning lots of downtime, but even constant downtime needs a plan. Otherwise, everyone can go a little batty very quickly!



Here are ten ideas for your summer down time:

1. Plan a Service Project: 

Kick off the summer with a group service project: One year we invited friends over and partnered with Craft Hope in making bracelets for orphanages in Russia.



You may also choose a local recipient. The following year we made suncatchers and visited the elderly in a local nursing home.

2. Go Camping:

Camping is a must in Wyoming, along with other trips you may have planned. But even if you’re in a season of life where camping is not possible, pitch a tent in your backyard.

3. Create Your Own Summer Reading Program:

We'll read all summer long, but will have a special three week incentive program. I got the idea for it last year here. Our kids love this porgram because they get to pick a prize every day. But also because they really do get immersed in the reading they/we do. If a prize a day doesn’t work for you, stretch it out over the summer, tallying up points to cash in. The ideas are endless!





4. Implement Scripture Memorization:

I've chosen the first section of the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, for the children to memorize over the summer. How far they get will be determined by each one's age. If it helps, incentives for this might be a ticket for a date with mom, a date with dad, invite a friend over to play, etc. That way we're working in that quality time that we desire to make time for, too!

5. Do a Nature Study: 

Learn about trees and flowers, bugs and birds all around your neighborhood and community. I found this great resource for doing a nature study here.

6. Conduct a Science Experiment:

Summer is a great time to pull out a science book and get a little messy. Make it a weekly adventure!

7. Coordinate Neighborhood Games:

Remember how we used to do that, as kids? If there are other families with children in your neighborhood, invite friends over to play a little soccer or kickball! If not, invite friends to a park for a ball game.

8. Keep Math Fresh:

Rather than children forgetting so much of what they’ve learned this year over summer break, keep it fresh and fun with some math games (or games of any subject, for that matter).

9. Plan Plenty of Water Fun:

Summer gets busy and flies by, so if you can’t get to the pool often enough, turn on the sprinkler in your backyard or have a water fight!

10. Start a Lemonade Stand:

Allow your children to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills by learning the value of the dollar, not to mention, their communication and leadership skills!


I like to take advantage of time together over the summer so we try to keep individual activities to a minimum. I love to see the relationships of my children grow and imaginations soar when they have books to stimulate their imagination and time for uninterrupted play–to act out all of their new adventures.

Summer time around here is a time of relaxation and fun with a little structure to keep everyone in the know as to what to expect, as the days can run into each other easily and quickly without a plan.

We hope to fit in plenty of reading, exploration, playing in our backyard, parks with friends, tennis with grandpa, and getting wet with cousins A LOT!

I am a believer in making a plan and then working it out flexibly. So go jot down some ideas and have a great summer!

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Check out these great sites for more fun ideas for your summer:

67 Ideas For Fun and Learning This Summer 
Summer Bucket List and Free Printables
Summer Activities For Kids


...Encouraging Moms of Today's Generation.

I believe God gives us tiny glimpses of heaven everyday, particularly within the context of our marriage and, if so blessed, our children. Although this earthly road we travel may prove difficult, when we persevere with eyes on Christ, he is faithful to shower our hearts with heavenly glimpses. (Learn more about Theresa here.)

5/15/2015

Birds of a Feather - A "Once-A-Week" Unit Study Review

Affiliate links are used in this post.
Homeschool Legacy Review

"Once-a-Week" unit studies by Homeschool Legacy are unique in that they are designed to be used once-a-week. The units can be easily added into your regular curriculum by setting aside one day per week as your "unit study day" to complete the activities. Throughout the week, you complete small "daily activities" such as a Family Read-aloud, Independent Reading, a family movie night, or an extended activity like a field trip.  The main hands-on activities are designed to be completed once-a-week, but you can also spread the activities out over the week.

The idea of a "once-a-week" unit study that requires no prep appealed to me, and when I saw that we would be reading John Audubon: Young Naturalist in our regular curriculum, I was excited to review Birds of a Feather to kill two birds with one stone! :)


Each unit offers:

  • Library reading/video choices (with call numbers, however our library does not use them anymore in the Juvenile section)
  • Resource links 
  • Boy Scouts or American Heritage Girls merit badge requirements identified
  • Supplies lists
  • Independent Reading suggestions
  • Family Read-Aloud suggestions
  • Family Devotional
  • Language
  • History 
  • Art Appreciation
  • Art
  • Science
  • Research suggestions
  • Field Trip suggestions
  • Family Movie Night suggestions
  • "Stump Your Dad Trivia"
  • scheduling tips
  • and more!
They are available as a PDF with clickable links (what I received) or as a paperback. 

When an activity called for research or the use of an encyclopedia, we simply pulled out resources from our own library or curriculum and sometimes made substitutions. Since the unit study is flexible and designed to be used alongside our regular curriculum, this worked out perfectly!

Here's what we've been up to with Birds of a Feather:


Week 1 Focus: Bird Basics and Your Backyard Habitat


We:
  • started John Audubon: Young Naturalist (scheduled in our regular curriculum and also suggested in Week 2 of this study!) for our Family Read-Aloud and did the science that goes along with our regular curriculum daily
  • started The Burgess Bird Book for Children for Storytime at bedtime
  • did a family devotional on birds and their habitats
  • made homemade bird feeders
  • created a backyard habitat for birds by setting up a bird feeding station in our yard
  • started a nature journal
  • had a family movie night

Week 2 Focus: Bird Identification


We:
  • continued our Family Read-Aloud, Storytime and our regular curriculum
  • learned the criteria for identifying birds
  • learned the parts of a bird and labeled them
  • used the National Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds to identify bird species
  • listened to birds songs
  • drew a picture of a Wood Thrush after looking at Audubon's drawings
  • went on a walk to look for birds
  • had a family movie night

Week 3 Focus: Ornithology


We:
  • continued our Family Read-Aloud/Storytime
  • learned about different types of feathers and their purpose
  • learned the main parts of a feather
  • examined the shape of feathers and did an experiment to demonstrate the Bernoulli Principle
  • learned the parts of an egg and drew and labeled them for our notebooks
  • learned the benefits of the shape of the egg
  • learned about migration and then mapped the route of a sparrow for our regular science 
  • had a family movie night 

Week 4 Focus: Birds of Prey


We:
  • read about owls in our Family Read-Aloud and our regular curriculum
  • researched our national bird
  • explored bird sayings
  • learned that we can investigate what an owl ate by dissecting an owl pellet 
  • researched owls and drew a picture of an owl for our notebooks 
  • made plans to attend a wildlife refuge this summer to learn more about birds of prey
  • had a family movie night
View Week 4 from Birds of a Feather to see more detail on a week's worth of lessons.

As you can see, we completed each week's activities along with our regular curriculum. Choosing a study that tied in was a good fit for me, and it got me excited about unit studies again! If you are looking for some extra hands-on learning to add to your regular studies, you might be able to find a unit that will tie in for some extra fun!

Homeschool Legacy Review

While choosing a Science unit worked really well for us to enhance our lessons, I'm anxious to read some of my Crew Mates reviews - especially for the American History units! When I first looked at the History units, I was not as interested because our curriculum offers plenty of hands-on activities for History and I thought it would be too much. But, now knowing how easy and flexible the Once-A-Week unit studies are, I'm anxious to hear all about them!

Pros:
  • "no-prep" (just gathering supplies and books/resources)
  • planning and scheduling are done for you
  • supplies and resources are listed for you
  • flexible in how it's used and the resources used (we were easily able to substitute ones we didn't have access to)
  • literature based
  • Biblically based
  • encourages notebooking/journal writing
  • hands-on activities 
  • fun

Cons:
  • Family Read-Aloud schedule is unrealistic. There is a new chapter book scheduled each week. 

It says in the "Getting the Most Out of Your Once-A-Week Unit Study" section at the end of the study that it is not intended that you read all of the books listed, and I can see that applying to the Library Reading/Video Choices list, but not to the weekly Family Read-Aloud suggestions, since they are scheduled as the Family Read-Aloud for that week. As much as we love to read, the books scheduled each week are at least a 3 week read-aloud and can not reasonably be completed in one week, especially if you are adding this on to your regular curriculum. As it is, we were able to finish one chapter book during the 4 week study and made it half way through another. There were some really great suggestions, too, so I was a little disappointed that we couldn't do them all. However, I think we chose a great book that tied well into all 4 weeks and is a part of our regular curriculum, and since the unit study is designed to be flexible, I still feel good about our experience.

For a fun, flexible, and easy unit study as a stand alone unit or to tie into your curriculum, check out Homeschool Legacy!




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