Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Homeschool Summer Activities Round Up

After the first three super productive weeks of Homeschool Summer, things started unraveling a little.  There was a mini heat wave, there were pool invitations.  I started having the occasional meeting for work.  We were all a little tired.  The week's themes started to spread out, and by the end, they had dropped off completely.  Still, I managed an activity here and there that I want to jot down for memory's sake.  

We instituted a post-nap book hangout on Mama and Daddy's bed.  This was great for days when I felt like we had spent the entire time running around and I wanted something intellectual to happen.  Then I'd pop on a movie.  These are some of our favorites mid-summer.

Early this summer, we ditched our normal coffee table and plopped down a big play table I found at a yard sale.  The table top is two removable panels- one side depicts a landscape with trees and a lake, and the other was plain white, until I hit it with a few coats of chalkboard spray paint.  It's really fun to draw roads, words, or designs.  It's also provided valuable lessons about what we do and don't put chalk on.

During food and cooking week, I had Milo help me make pancakes (yum), banana bread, (YUM!), and chocolate avocado popsicles (ugh).  He loved dumping ingredients in, mixing, mashing bananas, etc.  I would also put a small amount of plain flour on the table and let him have a sensory jamboree by sending it flying everywhere. 

We used play food and a tea set to practice setting the table.  Many times I would demonstrate putting the food on the plate or pouring an imaginary drink into a cup, always saying "please" and "thank you" way too cheerfully.  At first he looked at me like I was a lunatic, but by the end of the summer, he is pouring little cups of fake cider from a tiny gallon jug and offering them to everyone politely.  It blows my mind to think of concrete things he had no grasp on that he gets now.

This trunk picnic was a necessity when we needed lunch on a road trip this summer, but I would definitely repeat it, maybe somewhere super fun.  This would be a good end cap to a trip to a different park or after a family hike.  We put down the back seat and laid out a blanket, then ate the most boring food ever, but it was special because we were in a gas station parking lot and there were guys unloading a Dunks truck while we lunched.

Next summer, when I'm planning "Homeschool Summer" or "Stay-At-Home Day Camp," I'll approach it differently.  Less themes with more time devoted to them.  I'll also try to work sensory play, cooking, and art in weekly, as opposed to a week just for those fun things.  I like the idea of still field tripping on Fridays, but maybe something special every two weeks.  I noticed this summer that some of my plans couldn't happen because I underestimated what I would be able to do with both boys- really letting Milo experience a museum or zoo without an extra pair of hands was not in the cards.

We also didn't get outside enough.  I know it's because I'm not an outside girl and I don't really want to pass that on to my babies.  It's just such an ORDEAL to cart Elliott out, find a shady, blanketed area that he can be mildly entertained, get Milo's shoes on, get everyone sunscreened, and be outside for 20 minutes before Milo is bored and we cart everything back in.  Next summer, when everyone is walking, it will either be easier or harder.

All in all, I think Homeschool Summer was a success.  Especially at the beginning, when I was following through, I loved coming up with activities, sourcing books at the library, and finding time everyday to practice language more deliberately.  Milo is talking and communicating much more than at the beginning of the summer, but I honestly think it's due mainly to him growing and the 3x a week speech therapy that he's getting.  Still, we're reading, and talking, and playing together, and that's helping, too.

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