Some Good Old-Fashioned Summer Fun

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for some fun things for the kids to do that don’t involve “screens” of any kind. By that I mean computer, TV, iPod, video game, you get the idea…

Here are a couple of books that are loaded with some of the fun things we did as kids and some new ideas that I can’t wait to try with my boys.

Summer Fun!Summer Fun! 60 Activities For a Kid-Perfect Summer by Susan Williamson is a great resource full of creative things to do.  Here’s a look at some of what you will find inside:

  •  chapter 1 – stilts, boomerangs, yo-yos, fortune cookies, and bubbles
  •  chapter 2 –  bug hotel, bats, and toads
  •  chapter 3-  strawberry jam, pretzels, and floppy hats
  •  chapter 4 – rain gauge, sign language, Morse code, and puppets
  •  chapter 5 – art projects, solar system supper, camping out, and  nighttime fun
  •  chapter 6 – redecorate your bedroom, drawing a floor plan, fun with string and yarn
  •  chapter 7 – learn a new skill, clouds, and sand painting
  •  chapter 8 – trees, mud, and beach fun

Also scattered throughout the chapters are sidebars entitled “Making a Difference” suggesting activities that involve doing something nice for someone else.  The author also manages to squeeze in segments with summer reading selections that tie in with the activities.

This book is a very practical resource aimed at kids ages 7-12. They will be able to complete most of the activities by themselves but a few will require adult assistance.


The Kids Summer Games Book
Another title I found useful is The Kid’s Summer Games Book by Jane Drake and Ann Love.  This is a book jam-packed with the instructions for all those old games we played as kids like Spud and croquet. There are games for groups or just one or two. There are games that you can make, like Pick-Up sticks and Bingo.  They have water games and games for indoors on rainy days. There are even instructions for setting up a miniature golf course with things commonly found around most households.   The only caution I would have is that the book does contain some card games including poker. If your family has strong feelings about card playing you might want to skip that section of the book.


Early Pleasures and Pasttimes
Finally, if you really want to step back in time and wonder how folks entertained themselves before all the electronic gadgets we have today, you might enjoy looking through a book called Early Pleasures and Pastimes by Bobbie Kalman.  This book has some delightful old-fashioned pen-and-ink illustrations and explores activities like hopscotch, marbles, farmyard games and jump rope.  There are great discussions of picnics and festivals, family celebrations and holidays.  It takes a refreshing look at times gone by when family and friendship were the most important ingredients to having fun.

Enjoy!

 

A World View of the Family Meal

What the World Eats

What the World Eats

We just finished reading a fascinating book called What the World Eats.  This book is a photo essay with photographs taken by Peter Menzel. He also wrote a book back in the 90’s called Material World: A Global Family Portrait which is also worth your time, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

What the World Eats takes a look at 25 families from 21 countries and explores what they eat in a week’s time. The photos show the family together with their week’s supply of food displayed in the foreground. There is also a detailed list of the grocery items and the cost in both their country’s currency and US dollars. There are interesting facts about each country as well as a narrative about what life is like for the family. In addition, there are pages scattered throughout the book with statistics about life in the countries and how the individual countries compare to the rest. One page that we found quite interesting was the one that compared life expectancy.  There are also graphs that show interesting tidbits like how many McDonald’s restaurants are in each country and what the literacy rate is.

I read this book aloud with my two youngest boys covering one or two families each day. After we read we talked about the pictures and what life was like for each family. I was amazed at how quickly my boys recognized that we live in a very wealthy country compared to the rest of the world. We had many discussions about how spoiled we felt when we looked at what other families had or didn’t have.

There are several websites that go along with this book. And on this page, it shows several of the photos from an earlier book called Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. The website doesn’t include the informative text about the families.

Material World: A Global Family Portrait

Material World: A Global Family Portrait

The other book I mentioned, called Material World: A Global Family Portrait, is similar in format but this time the focus in on what each family owns. The photos show the family outside their home with all of their belongings displayed around them. Again, it was sobering to see how people in other parts of the world live.   On the web, you can find more information here where you can see some of the families in the program NOVA developed around this book.  You can also visit Peter Menzel’s website for more information about his work.

 

School’s Out!

We officially ended our school year on Friday. Then we counted…108 days until we officially start again on September 8th.  We try to take Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend as our Summer break.  You’ll notice I said, “officially.”  That’s because we never stop learning. We are “officially” finished with this year so the kids can say that they are now in the next grade but…we never stop learning.

Actually, it could be argued that, even though Iowa’s homeschool law only requires 148 days, we homeschool 365 days a year. Would there ever be a day when we didn’t learn something? Now I’ll admit that we don’t learn as much on some days as others but we do learn something. And I know that despite the fact that we are not “doing school” for the next 108 days, we will be learning a lot in the area of nutrition. We won’t be using textbooks or taking tests to see what we know but we will be learning about healthy eating and about how our bodies use the foods that we consume but I plan to go into more detail about that in another post.

We’ll also be reading for the summer reading program at the public library.  A couple of my boys are learning to play the guitar and another one is learning computer programming.  We will spend time taking walks around the pond in the park behind our house and when we come home we will get out the bird book and the bug book and look up the different critters we saw on our walk. One of my sons will likely draw pictures of what he’s seen as well.  We might listen to bird calls on the computer and try to identify those little, feathered fellows that hid from us and only gave us clues to their identity through their songs. Then there are those rainy days when we will be inside. We’ll spend those days reading, watching movies, cooking up something in the kitchen or playing a game or two. We might get out the art supplies and see what we can create.

So you see, we are only “officially” done with school for the record. We are never really done….the kids just don’t know it!

Happy learning,

–Sheryl