Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer Lovin' Series: Mommy School Part 2

Once the general structure of our summer was planned I wanted to gather supplies to make each day run more smoothly. Since we've done this a few summers now I've seen what does and does not work for us and I feel like we have a pretty good system that is working and it only requires a clip board for each of us and file folders.

My clipboard holds all of the monthly calendars. Kendall has a reading log clipped to hers and both girls' clipboards hold their chore chart that I printed off. They'll use the clip board during the day if they want to work away from the table. Honestly I think the best way to handle chores is to develop a habit. Usually my girls make their beds before coming downstairs in the morning. If they don't then I send them back up after breakfast and before they're allowed to play. This is what I would like to do with the other chores, have them be just part of the day. I do realize the fun of marking things off so I have the charts. My kids don't currently receive any sort of reward or allowance for doing chores, they're just their responsibility and part of being a member of the family (I'm not at all opposed to allowances though, I think they're a great way to start learning about managing money).

I think the file folders are a big part of what makes the day run more smoothly and I've discussed them here on the blog. Kendall and Kate each have a file folder for each day of the week (Monday-Friday), in that folder is everything they need for that day. If we're going to have a scavenger hunt that day, the list of items is in there, worksheets, lined paper, whatever they need they have. If they decide they want to go outside and work we just grab that folder and go. This requires planning on my part so at the start of each week I look to see what we are going to focus on and find fun activities that correspond. We're discussing autobiographies and self portraits early on so I grabbed some book titles that I want to collect from the library or go ahead and find some websites that show examples. Teachers Pay Teachers has a cute autobiography book that I printed off. I also throw in some fun puzzles or coloring sheets that they can grab out if they get bored. 

For myself I have file folders that are each marked about three weeks out. If I come across something that I know we'll want to use I throw it in that folder to have when I start planning.

When I first started pulling everything together I set a small budget and purchased the clipboards, file folders as well as a few other fun things. Below is a list of fun supplies you might want to have on hand.

Sketch Diary: Used for drawing, daily writing, nature journals and sketching. I'll be using Carla Sonheim's Drawing Lab book to work through this summer (for me and the girls)

  • Workbooks: I generally buy a grade level up and use a Scripture based penmanship book
  • Art supplies: try a variety of media for any age. Colored pencils, paints, oil pastels, chalk, play doh, clay, markers, even different textures of paper. On May 20th designer Todd Oldham releases a line of Kid Made Modern, fun art supplies at Target (yes, I have it written on my calendar...I'm also accepting Target gift cards)

  • If penmanship is a goal then try different writing surfaces: dry erase, little chalkboards, shaving cream...
  • Blank booklets: Sometimes a story in their journal can be developed further into a little booklet. Kids love to make books. I keep a few of these blank ones on hand for when inspiration strikes.
  • I've mentioned it before but browse the Teachers Pay Teachers website. These ladies know what they're doing and have fun packets pulled together already. My personal favorite (part because of her design style, grade level and general cuteness) is The Teacher Wife's work. You can even find free stuff so if you have a low budget to work with you don't even have to buy workbooks just search that site or any basic google search.
Although Kendall is officially out of school, Kate's preschool is in a different school district so she has field trips planned all this week. We haven't formally started Mommy School this summer since our days are still very much filled, I have informal things ready in case someone asks (and they have) or if boredom strikes.

That wraps up the Summer Lovin' series on how I plan for keeping the kids busy during the summer. It may seem really planned out but honestly we just go with the flow, we play and swim and craft but the key is to have a plan in place when they are bored or want to work on this stuff so you're not scrambling when the time comes. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Summer Lovin' Series: Mommy School Part 1

Once I knew what I wanted to cover over the summer I had to prepare in advance how to make it happen. Although my girls love"Mommy School" (and ask to do it all the time) it was important to me to incorporate lots of just for fun stuff too. First I browsed through my Pinterest boards Mommy School and Boredom Busters for ideas. The web is FULL of resources, what did we do before internet...and pinterest?! When I saw this pin I decided to loosely structure our week the same way.

Since "being thoughtful" was going to be incorporated into day to day life I switched it to Think Outside Thursday. We'll draw in our nature journals, go on a hike, or just have school outside on that day.

First I printed off a monthly and weekly calendar for the summer months, today I'll focus on how I filled in the monthly pages. I used the TomKat Studio free downloads and searched through the pinterest boards to list a craft for each Monday. In the past I have used Google's online calendar instead of a printed calendar. If you do this you can include a link to the craft's directions. On every Wednesday I penciled in a kitchen lesson, this site was a great help in finding kid friendly recipes and I know the girls will enjoy the illustrations. 

Somewhere fun Friday is a little bit up in the air. We have zoo and aquarium season passes that I plan on using a lot. Most cities have a cinema that offers a free kid's movie once a week. Our local theater hasn't published their schedule yet but I'm hoping to include that. Our city publishes a fantastic local kids magazine with listings of events for the month: art museum's free days, library events, farmers markets... My advice would just be to scour your city for the free stuff, often if you "like" local theaters, museums, or parks on Facebook they will post about upcoming events. Sign up for your library's Summer Reading Program because they have events throughout the summer (even if your kid isn't reading yet). Sit down with your calendar and pencil in all the events.  Remember to add in any vacations or visitors you will have because your schedule will be different that week.

Finally on the monthly calendar I penciled in a rough idea of what I wanted to cover that week for each girl: fractions, autobiographies, money. This way we wont be switching back and forth each day between telling time, counting money....we'll have a general focus.

This is turning out to be much longer than I anticipated, I'll cover our day to day plans in the next post.

Have I missed any other great free activity resources?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Summer Lovin' Series: Goals

(Tap tap tap) is this thing on?

A paper found in Kendall's backpack this week.

This blog post is not one the grandparents will pour over most likely. So in order to give them a little something I refrained from posting a funny story on Facebook today just so I could put it here. Kendall was reading birthday cards she received, one card was from our church and it read, "You are a precious gift from God." Kendall read it out loud then looked at me very wide eyed and said, "This is from God!?" I love that girl.

Summer break is coming so quickly, Kendall's last day is next Tuesday! The end of the year brings with it a flurry of field trips and activities. It also throws me into turbo planning mode to have things prepared here at home. I like to have the house all clean, the pantry stocked and plenty of activities planned for keeping busy. Plans of blog posts have been turning over in my mind so I decided to do a little series on how we prepare for the summer months at home. This may only be a two part series discussing (1) our summer goals (2) how I've put together our Mommy School for the next three months, and maybe some other tips for staying busy and organized while the kids are all home.
Planning mode on my desk.

About a month ago I started to think about what I wanted to accomplish this summer. The top of the list contained the obvious fun stuff....I wanted my kids to have the same great memories of summer vacation that I did: lots of outdoor playing, ice cream drips and dirty clothes. But I also wanted them to avoid the back slide that I know sometimes occurs when they're out of the school and learning routine. I dared to hope that they may end up a little bit farther ahead and smarter after this time, a mom can dream, right?! I started online searches for assessment tests. Kate will still be in preschool next year so I found some kindergarten assessment tests to see what we can do to put her ahead. You can find some great resources on the Teachers Pay Teachers website. I gave her a little quiz and from the results found what we need to work on. Kendall is currently in kindergarten and has been a little ahead of the game all year so I knew we didn't need to reinforce so much but instead work on some first grade lessons just to give her a leg up.
Today I made a big grocery trip to stock the pantry.

Perhaps more important to me than the book smarts were the life skills I was hoping to teach them this year. It has always been a goal of mine to give my kids increasingly more responsibility each year. Brian posted something a month or so ago that really has resonated with me. I can't remember the exact quote but it basically said, "The best way to give kids more confidence is to give them something they think they can't do then allow them to accomplish it on their own." I think too often we as parents just try to verbally build our kids up. "You're so smart, you're such a good soccer player...." I was tipped off that this wasn't the best way of accomplishing the goal of confidence when Kendall came home from her first day of kindergarten and told me, "I'm the cutest and smartest in the class....and I have the best clothes." Modesty was something we had definitely failed at, ha. Giving her a difficult task that she works out on her own, that's the way I want her to be built up.

Tangent: I do admit that I do still give lots of praise. As an adult my own mom still makes me feel like I'm the smartest and funniest person (and the best singer) and I want my kids to feel that I think the same way about them. I will say that learning that I'm not a great singer was a hard lesson for me, hee hee.

So a little list of brain smart goals and life smart goals for the gals in this house:

Kendall (finishing Kindergarten):

  • read read read: yes, this is books smarts but my big goal is to develop more of a love of books and reading.
  • Improve telling time, working with money and fractions
  • penmanship practice 
  • Kendall is GREAT about keeping her room (minus her desk) clean and bed made, I would like to help her gain more independence by showering on her own, start making some of her own meals and helping with chores that I do around the house.
Kate (Preschool):
  • Better learn her address and phone number (this move has thrown her off a bit)
  • identifying coins, months of year, days of week and some sight word reading
  • Read more together
  • This month Kate started to make her own bed, she has been picking out her own clothes and getting dressed for a while now.  The goal is to add on to the list of things that she can accomplish by herself.
Me (old enough to have three kids?!)
  • I have been KICKING butt at the gym lately and have really cleaned up my eating so the goal is to keep the momentum going. The working out I have no doubt about but honestly when the kids misbehave at all I run to the pantry (stress eater, much?). 
  • I hesitate to put this in writing because I feel like it is more of a dream than a goal, ha but I would like to give up diet soda (Diet Dr Pepper addict here). It's my major vice right now and although I've been so good about eating better and less I find that I grab another soda instead of a snack. Maybe I doubt my ability, sounds like a hard task to build up my own confidence, eh?
  • Blog. This is a big goal. I love this blog and the memories that it holds. I really do want to make the time to get on here more. I feel like the tiny status updates and photos on Facebook has made this thing obsolete. Just the same, I want to make it happen.
Working on my fitness.
Having some sort of plan will help keep boredom away and with the boredom the sister bickering...and with the bickering the trips to the pantry.

Am I the only one? Do you set goals for yourself or your kids?