Summer Learning

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Today we learned about Colonialism. We read a book, played marbles and jacks, jumped rope, and made beeswax candles. I didn’t tell my kids we would be doing school work, and we were sitting outside, and I had to sit on the candles so they wouldn’t start working on them before I finished the book. They were fighting to participate! School, whether in a building or at home, doesn’t have to be work, or hard, or boring. Great teachers have kids banging on their door at all hours. Great parents teach all day long.

I keep reading articles about how it isn’t good for kids to start school early, or spend too much time in school, or have too much homework. I read that kids should be moving, jumping, playing, and just being kids. But, I don’t see how they are mutually exclusive. Kids can run and jump and play and learn all at the same time. Sure, kids don’t like to sit in a desk in neat rows filling in bubble answers for a test, who would? But, that isn’t what learning really is, and people on all sides of every debate can probably agree about that. I think assessments are important for kids and for schools but they don’t have to take center stage. And, summer is still for learning, even if it is also about fireflies and swimming pools and s’mores. Because, fireflies are a great way to learn about science, swimming pools are for math, physical education, and science, and s’mores are absolutely about science. Throw in a couple of books and some stories about your childhood memories and you have language arts and social studies as well.

When you are planning summer activities just think about how they link to math, science, social studies, and language arts and then point out those links. Read a book or two out loud that support what you are learning about. Watch a video that extends the learning you are doing. Add, supplement, and discuss. We want to create life-long learners, kids that will turn into curious, interested, and thoughtful adults. Most parents do this already, and we could probably all do a little more.

Let’s stop talking about how kids need to be kids and that means they need to be free of school. Let’s instead talk about how life is school, and everything we do is a learning opportunity.

My favorite games and activities for Colonialism

  • Marbles
  • Jacks
  • Jump rope
  • Soap making kit
  • Candle making kit

My favorite children’s books about Colonialism

  1. If You Lived in Colonial Times, Ann McGovern and June Otani
  2. Colonial Days, David C. King
  3. Molly’s Pilgrim, Barbara Cohen
  4. A Lion to Guard Us, Clyde Robert Bulla
  5. Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims, Clyde Robert Bulla

My favorite activities to do with kids after reading about Colonial America

  • Make and eat corn on the cob
  • Practice games colonial children might have played
  • Try to build a shelter using leaves, grass, and sticks that we collect
  • Hunt for arrowheads or flint in fields or creek beds
  • Chores! Find those chores that children  used to do regularly and complete them!
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