Monday, August 8, 2016

Summer Learning - What We Actually Did

Each summer we take a couple weeks completely off of learning activities. It is nice and relaxing for about two weeks, then it gets too loosey-goosey for a large family to sustain with remaining sane. Then we begin our summer learning activities. This varies each year and sometimes each month of summer. The goal is to give us enough structure to our mornings that the freedom of afternoons is balanced and kids aren't at loose ends. My other goal is simply to maintain basic skills of reading and math.

This summer is nearly over. We start the new school year in two weeks and are back to completely off and loosey-goosey for these two weeks before our start date. I thought it would be a good time to look back and see what we did for our learning this summer. It was not a highly academic summer, more of a just keep skills sharp summer. We did not do our learning activities every single day. Some weeks we hit all 5 days and other weeks may have been only 3 days.

Scripture Study - Each day children read one chapter in the scriptures. Emma finished reading the Book of Mormon for the very first time this summer and is now reading the New Testament. Joseph is almost done reading the Book of Mormon for the first time. He is on track to finish by his birthday. Makayla has been reading the New Testament to get a jump on reading for Seminary. Daniel is in 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. I have been reading aloud from the Scripture Story Readers to Oliver, Caleb, Mason, Samuel, and Tobias. I have been reading the Book of Mormon and journaling about each chapter some weeks, and other weeks I am studying and preparing for the lessons I teach in Relief Society. For those I use two General Conference talks. I love General Conference!

Math - Most days the kids did one side of a math worksheet from their current level in Math U See. This was review, just to keep them fresh with math. When we start the new school year each child is moving into a new Math U See level. I'll be teaching everything from Geometry to Alpha (basic addition and subtraction).

Writing - For about half the summer the kids did writing. We kept it low-key, just fun and relaxing. They used writing prompts, worked on projects, it was pretty much up to them.

Learning to Read - Oliver finished up All About Reading level 1 and is in lesson 14 of 51. There has been a definite improvement in Oliver's reading readiness. New lessons are grasped easily instead of worked at for a couple weeks. I suspect he'll take off with reading independently by the end of this school year (2nd grade). Caleb has been doing alphabet work to learn the letters of the alphabet and their sounds. He's not quite ready for All About Reading level 1, but he'll get there sometime this school year (Kindergarten).

Literature - Each day the kids read or listen to one chapter in a literature book. Sometimes I choose the book, sometimes they do. Here are books I know each child has read or listened to this summer. Makayla has done a lot of extra reading on her own time, outside the one chapter per day plan, as did Emma to some degree. The other kids generally stick to 1 chapter a day.
  • Makayla - The Work and the Glory 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment; Darkstalker; The Heir; The Crown; Cinder; Cress; Scarlet; Fairest, Trials of Apollo
  • Joseph - The Impossible Race; Trials of Apollo
  • Emma - Trials of Apollo; Mark of Athena; The Red Pyramid; Wayside School is Falling Down; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
  • Daniel - The Lost Hero; Son of Neptune
  • Oliver - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone; Son of Neptune

Book Club - It's been a busy summer but we kept up with our Book Club reading. After each book we are watching the accompanying movie together with our book club friends. June was Stuart Little by E. B. White. The verdict was it is a good story but the book ending feels extraordinarily unfinished. July was Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers. This was much more enjoyed by most of the children. Makayla feels that Mary Poppins in the book is a bit creepy and strange. I have to agree. I much prefer the movie. For August and September we are reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. We've read several novels by Verne and loved them (Around the World in 80 Days read in 2013, Journey to the Center of the Earth read in 2014) but I always find them challenging to read aloud. These truly are classics, full of rich vocabulary that we are pausing to look up, and fabulous information and fantastical ideas.

We've done some of the usual summer activities, which I won't mention here but in passing. Swimming, bowling, roasting hot dogs and smores over the fire. One really fun and educational day trip we took was to the Celtic Fest on the grounds of the Renaissance Festival. It was open just one weekend but kids 12 and under got in free, so we went and enjoyed ourselves. We listened to amazing bands with drums, bagpipes, and other instruments. We saw fire dancers and sword dancers. We explored shops. We saw a sheepdog herding demonstration where they herded sheep and ducks. We visited the armory. Kids came home with jewelry, a walking staff, wands, wooden swords, and a battle axe. We're all excited to head back in 4 weeks for the Renaissance Festival. The biggest thing the kids want to see at this one? The live joust!

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