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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Keeping Control While Laying Back

Pin It As the school year winds down, the freedom of lazy summer days beckon. The sun is up so much later, activities and relaxing days fill the family schedule. It's appropriate for expectations to be somewhat looser than school time and it is important to allow for plenty of free time in the summer. But I have found that a total break isn't always the best for maintaining peace and serenity. The outcome of zero planning is usually hectic, crazy, and results in unfulfilled days.

I have created a weekly summer planning chart that was meant to help me feel slightly in control this summer. Looking at the chart, it is obviously unreasonable that each area will be accomplished each day. This chart is for planning purposes only. No need to stick to it religiously. Some days are filled with more free play than others.

These ideas are geared for children ages 3-10 years old. Many of them may work for older children as well. I’m lucky, my 6 ½ year old still loves playing with Play Dough!

Click on the image to plan your summer activities:

Craft/Activity/Project Ideas
1) Cookie Play Dough
2) Play Dough
3) Puzzles
4) Paper Chain countdown until vacation
5) Board Games
6) Do an act of service, like pick up all the trash on your street or make cookies for a neighbor.
7) Write Thank You Notes or letters to cousins and grandparents.
8) Puppet Show (my Mom made us the most amazing puppet theater w/ puppets)
9) Magazine cut-out collages. All you need are magazines, paper, scissors and glue
10) Driveway painting with Crayola sidewalk paint
11) Make Tele-Cups with Styrofoam cups and 3’ to 6’ of string
12) Make a fort with blankets and chairs
13) Watercolor paints
14) Finger paint with pudding
15) Water balloon activities: water balloon volleyball, toss, or fights!
16) Blow bubbles
17) Painting with water. Fill a bucket full of water and use a paint brush to paint the deck, fence or sidewalk with water.
18) Run in the sprinklers.
19) Set up a lemonade stand.
20) Tie Die Shirts
21) Make molded garden stepping stones
22) Go on a nature walk
23) Make homemade ice-cream
24) Make homemade popsicles

School Learning Ideas
1) Write 20 interesting things about something. 10 things if they are younger (idea from The Pioneer Woman). I think I will have Averie start with insects, Mozart, and water.
2) Great website for mini lesson plans:
3) File Folder Activities. I have a bunch if you would like copies.
4) My mom’s best friend gave me a valuable resource that has helped me do something fun and educational with my children each day of the year. All I have to do is look at the month and the day to see what activity we are supposed to do. For example, on April 30th we were supposed to “Color a rainbow, then write down the colors.” Or on November 3rd we are supposed to “Clean under your bed.” She came up with 365 things to do! And also included activity pages that correlate. In fairness to her, this was a lot of work so I can’t share, but let me know if you are interested. She may consider selling her creation if there is enough interest.
5) Educational Workbooks. You can find these at places like Walmart and Target. Last year I found mine from Target for $1!
6) Hooked on Phonics Program. I purchased the entire old-school set on ebay for $20! There are 4 levels.
7) Another great website with free learning printables:

Here are a few of my favorite free printables. Just click on the image to download.

Outing/Adventure Ideas
1) Programs @ the library
2) Play at the park
3) Swimming
4) Bike ride
5) Roast smores at a campsite (we have plenty of these nearby)
6) Feed the ducks @ a park
7) Play date with friend

Reading Ideas
1) Hooked on Phonics Program. I purchased the entire old-school set on ebay for just $20! There are 4 levels. My kids love them, but if they don’t, no need to force or push! It should be something fun to do.
2) Library Summer Reading Programs are a must!
3) Read a few chapter books out loud to your children, a chapter or two each day. A few suggested reading classics:
a. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
b. Stuart Little
c. Where the Red Fern Grows
d. Charlotte’s Web
e. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
f. The Indian in the Cupboard
g. James and the Giant Peach
h. The Secret Garden
i. Pippi Longstocking
j. Tuck Everlasting

Spiritual Learning Ideas
(I’ve focused on LDS topics, but if you aren’t LDS you could create mini devotionals and scripture memorizations, etc.)
1) Memorize an Article of Faith each week
2) Memorize a Primary song each week
3) Read the Friend Magazine
4) Read a scripture story
5) This site has great ideas:

I would love more ideas for the summertime! Do share!

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