habitatathome, howto, crafts, diy, kids

Weekly Breakdown for Summer

In the summer, I am with my children 24/7 as the stay-at-home parent, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.  As we know, camp is very expensive.  But the kids are still little and you need something to do.  So to save money, let's bring elements of camp to the home.  

Despite our best efforts, we know kids may throw us some push back on what we think we have planned on a daily basis.  ... Or, a ton of push-back!  So, let's just know that may happen and not be surprised about it.  It is because of this, that I felt topics being week-by-week, allowed for some more flexibility.  If they don't want to do the project today, well then maybe tomorrow.  

Nothing is ever rigid with kids, but having a plan can help to ease your own mind if nothing else.   Each week I've developed here, has a topic with little field trips set, projects to do and academic skills woven in to suit the theme.  Some weeks are more intensive and some lean more toward self-guided activity to break things up.  My hope is that if you too, get anxious about summer, this might help jog the mind for ideas to do with your own family.  

Week 1: Relax!

Let's hold back on any agenda for the first week.  Just do what you like, enjoy the weather and chill at home.  You may go on a few play dates, you may not.  You may feel like going out somewhere, you may not.  Just don't worry about things for now.  Let it be, let it be... for there is plenty planned for the weeks ahead.  

Week 2: Cookery & Gardening

Cookery:  Each day, teach them how to prepare one dish.  (Just one!).  

This might just be learning how to use a knife to cut fruits and vegetables.  Making soup is fun, as you can chop lots of vegetables and throw them in the pot.  

Some children might be tasked with making sandwiches, pancakes, a plate of cheese & crackers or a bowl of ice cream!

Keep it basic.  They are developing great fine motor skills with stirring, whipping and assembling, as well as cognitive skills in how to navigate the kitchen.  The end result of plated of food is not the focus.  

Field Trip:  See if there is a food factory with tours near you.  Or, perhaps a creamery?  We will be going to a potato chip factory! 
Gardening:  Each day, learn a garden skill.  

Outdoor gardening ideas:  
Weed.  Dig & Plant.  Rake.  Pick up sticks.  Pick flowers.  Water the garden.  Deadhead plants.  (That means remove the dead flowers of new growth).  

Indoor gardening ideas:  
Types:  Terrarium.  Herb Garden.  Plants that grow in water.  Air plants.  Rock Garden.  Go to the garden center together to gather your supplies.  Set up you mini indoor garden with your supplies.    Talk about what you need to do to take care of it.  Plant a tree in a park (when you don't have your own lawn).  
Draw a picture of the plant's life cycle and talk about that.  

Field Trip:  Go to a public garden.  Take paper and crayons to do a life drawing of a plant.   
Read stories related to the week's topic.  If they're older, also practice writing about what they did this week.  

Week 3:  Arts & Crafts
Choose 3 mediums.  I chose Paper Mache, Clay and Paper.  
Before the summer, pin 1 or 2 projects to do for each medium you choose, so you're ready.  
Here are links to what we plan to do:  
Paper Mache Birds Nest  
Paper Mache Face
Polymer Clay Necklace
Polymer Clay Ornaments with Cookie Cutters
Huge Green Paper Leaf & Flower Cutouts

Field Trip:  Paint You Own Pottery Shop and/or Art Museum

Read stories related to the week's topic.  If they're older, also practice writing about what they did this week.  

Nice work!  You got through Arts & Crafts. : ) 

Week 4:  Citizenship  
Doing for Others
Check to see if there are any appropriate volunteer opportunities you can take your child to.  Try Church, Salvation Army, Food Bank or YMCA.  If there is something, wonderful! 
If there aren't any volunteer opportunities, do Random Acts of Kindness.  
- Send a letter to someone (or letter in a bottle!)
- Make a phone call to someone who would appreciate it.
- Give clothes and toys to Salvation Army
- Invite a friend or two over for a meal.
- Give someone a compliment.
Personal Responsibility
Do lots of chores this week. (This is a little something productive for you: a good house cleaning!).  Tip:  Give them a spray bottle with a light vinegar & water mixture so they aren't exposed to chemicals.  (Vinegar kills germs).  Fold the laundry, clean the tub, do the dishes, make the beds, do it all!

Money Talk Split their stash into Save-Spend-Give piles with them to gain a sense of the importance of budgeting.  Have fun buying yourselves a little present this week! Don't forget to donate too! Sneak in a few math skills.

Take Care of Our Planet:  
Pick up litter at a park.
Talk about what's recyclable and what's not.
Camp out over night in the back yard to gain appreciation for nature (no devices!).  
Make a meal just from garden ingredients that are in season.
Field Trip:  To a working farm.  
Read stories related to the week's topic.  If they're older, also practice writing about what they did this week. 

Week 5:  Science
Talk about the planets and stars.

Create a theory:  Try to prove it right or wrong.  (What floats?  What falls fastest?).  Talk about Why?  Ask each other lots of Why questions this week and try to come up with answers.  

Experiments:   Like the Arts & Crafts Week plan a few simple experiments ahead of time.  They may not work, but that's part of science as well.  Links to what we will attempt:  Counting Station.  What Conducts Electricity?   Light Refraction Experiment.   
Find Shapes in Nature

A Study on Eggs:  
Temperature's effects on it:  Freeze a whole egg with shell on still, then peel it and have look!  Cook an egg and talk about how that made it change too!  
Other egg manipulations:
Make mayonnaise
Make ice cream
Make egg tempera (old style of making paint)(see Instructables.com or Tinkerlab.com for how-to's).  
Field Trip:  Science Museum
Read stories related to the week's topic.  If they're older, also practice writing about what they did this week. 

Phew! That was another big week.  Let's take a break!

Week 6:  Find Your Passion
Entirely Child-Led Week!
Pick your favorite things to do.  Movies?  Sleepovers? Parties?  Camping?  Family Board Games?  Maybe they even took a liking a new hobby learned from earlier in the summer?  Have a blast this week!  Be spontaneous.  Play outside.  
Write or draw pictures about what you did all week.

Week 7:  Spiff Up the House
By now in the summer break, I'm feeling like the house is beginning to get neglected.  This week, focus on bigger organizational chores.  
- Clean up our rooms and closets.
- Empty a messy cupboard together and put it all back in neatly.  
- Give them that vinegar/water spray bottle again for some dusting.  
- Get outside and tidy up any lose ends or messy gardens.  
- Buy some flowers for the house.

Field Trip:  Nature Center or Museum
Field Trip: A Lake or Farm
Field Trip:  A place where they demonstrate a skill.  (We have Mill that does a demonstration) or a place that demonstrates History.  

Read stories related to the week's topic.  If they're older, also practice writing about what they did this week.

That week should have cleared a few cobwebs!

Week 8:  City Life/Park Life
City Life.  For us, driving-distance cities are:
Natural History Museum, MOMA, Central Park, Times Square, 5th Ave.
Washington DC:  Smithsonian with Daddy! 
Philadelphia:  US Mint, Swim in the fountain!, Go to the Reading Market.

Park Life:  Find your local Sate and National Parks and go check them out!  Great for hiking and walks.  

Read stories related to the week's topic.  If they're older, also practice writing about what they did this week.

Week 9:  Business
Think of one thing to easily make and sell.  
- First, talk about a very basic business plan:  What are we going to make?  Who is our market?  Where is the best place to sell?  What should we charge?
- Plan and make your booth:  A table at a playground?  A table in  a park?  Invite friends to your house?  Tip:  Charge very low prices so people don't feel 'pitched'.
Tutus are easy to make! There's the tried and trusted lemonade stand.  A fruit stand may be appealing, or a sweets stand.  Perhaps masks might be fun as well.  
- Spend the week's time in conversations planning and making.  Just try to sell on one day.  If it seems great, them do it again!  If not, go home and devise a new plan for next time.   That's business! 

Week 10:  Culture
Language:  Practice a language.  'You Tube' videos can help with this. Learn a simple song in a foreign language.  Learn to say 'Hello', 'Good Bye', 'Please', 'Thank You' and 'I Love You'. 

Cultural Habits:  Pick a culture and practice a habit from it.  Do they bow?  Do they eat sitting on the floor?  Do they have gift-giving traditions?  Do they have different noises for animal sounds?  What foods do they love?  How do they practice Holidays?  How do they say "Cheers"?   Find what culture resinates with your family and explore.    Look at pictures, videos and cultural shows too!  (sneaking in a little down time for you here!).  Do you have a friend from another culture?  Ask them about it!

Visit a food market from a different culture.  Talk about it and bring home the ingredients to make an authentic meal.

Take a look at a globe:  Talk about countries.  Where are we?

Ancestors:  Talk about your family history.  Do you have anything you can show for that?  Pictures?  Old clothing?  Food?  Traditions?  The flag? 

What's in our future?:  Ask them to imagine what might be in the future???  Or what might be on alien planets???

Read stories related to the week's topic.  If they're older, also practice writing about what they did this week.

Week 11:  Friends
This is a chance to reconnect.  Reach out to people you haven't seen all summer.   
- Invite someone over.
- Make a visit.
- Go to a public space/lake/beach and see lots of people.
- Do a group event in a library, garden or arts & crafts venue.  
- Exchange ideas.  
- Maybe have a small party? 
- Connect with family members or the elderly.

This is all personal, but important for our next generation to learn.  Connection can give much happiness and a sense of security.  

Week 12:  Summer Mash-up!
Do one thing each day from all the favorite things we've done before.  We've had 11 topics so far.  Pick 7!  Like a lottery. : ) 

Week 13:  Prepare for School and Relax!
Give yourself a celebratory gesture of gratitude for your summer efforts! Take a moment to yourself if you can.
Think about school and any calendar planning.  
Talk to your kids about going back to school.  
Let them play outside and be as free as much as possible! 
Relax in any manner you can find.  
Make this list simply a source of possible inspiration to incorporate into your summer lifestyle.  Even if only a fraction of your best wishes came true this summer, it's still a lot of great things!!  The main thing is to be happy.  

Happy New School Year!! 

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