Happy Memorial Day! Summer begins NOW! I was at Target the other day and saw something in the baking aisle that reminded me of one of my most favorite parts of summer from my childhood: Weekly trips to the grocery store with my mom. One reason I liked going to the store with her so much in the summer is that she had me pick out one boxed cake mix each week that I would get to make myself. So when I saw these fun summer cake and cookie mixes at the store, it reminded me of what a great idea this was and is – both from childhood memories of enjoying baking and also now from a “grown up” mommy and teacher perspective.
Having kids make a cake or cookie mix once a week in the summer helps them start to love cooking with fun, low stress, easy projects that usually turn out well. It also helps them practice many, many academic skills over the summer. Following a recipe (or directions on a box) and successfully baking a cake requires reading, sequencing, measuring, adding, using elapsed time, and even a bit of chemistry! I figure getting to pick out a cake mix each week could even make trips to the store easier. Even though our daughter is still too little for these summer baking projects (her weekly treat of choice at the grocery store is currently a mini post-it cube), I imagine that a kid who knows he or she gets to pick out one special dessert to prepare for the family might be slightly less focused on begging for a myriad of candy or junk food to take home. Or maybe not – but at least it’s worth a try! Regardless, I remember summer baking fondly from my own childhood and can’t wait to try it with our own daughter when she’s older (and has finally outgrown her post-it habit).
The last day of school is quickly approaching! As exciting as it is, the last day of school can be tough to plan for as a teacher in my opinion. The day always seems to crawl by… Kids are wired, teachers are tired, all of the books and school supplies have been packed away or sent home for the summer… There is literally nothing to do all day! My mom always says that she thinks no one should know ahead of time when the last day of school is going to be in order to avoid the unbearableness of the last day of school. Instead, the principal should just come on the speaker at the end of the day and tell people not to come back anymore for the year!
However, since this isn’t exactly practical, I like to spend the last day of school making summer activity bags. Each kid gets a bag to decorate. I collect a bunch of things kids can use for summer fun and learning (summer reading logs, little notebooks for writing or drawing, plastic magnifying glasses, crayons, pencils) and add them to the bags throughout the day. We also make things for the bags throughout the day (design bookmarks; color blank puzzles; decorate sun visors; and my personal favorite – make bug catchers by punching holes in plastic food storage containers, decorate them with bug stickers, and attach pipe cleaners for handles.)
Summer Activity Bags
These summer activity bags are a great way to kill time on the last day of school, and they provide some opportunities for summer fun and learning for the months ahead. Happy summer!
April showers bring… more May showers! Wedding and baby showers that is. Spring seems to be prime time for throwing showers. It’s a fun time of year to get to celebrate special events.
One thing I don’t like about showers though is the games. They often seem contrived and tend to be embarrassing and uncomfortable in my opinion. So I like to do some sort of craft project instead. Craft projects at showers are unique, and everyone seems to enjoy them – it’s as if regardless of age guests are instantly transported back to the arts and crafts time everyone loved in elementary school. The only problem is it can be hard to get people to stop doing the project in order for the guest of honor to open gifts!
For wedding showers, I have given guests paper dolls of the bride and let them use a variety of stickers, lace, jewels, ribbons, etc. to design wedding dresses. Very fun!
We recently had a baby shower for a friend expecting a little girl. It was a “fashion” themed shower, so I thought about doing a craft project decorating onesies. However, it seems that that has been done a lot lately. Instead I decided to have each guest make a page for a picture album. Everyone got a sheet of scrapbook paper and photo mats along with stickers, punch outs, etc.
Baby Shower Picture Album Supplies
They decorated their pages then we put them into sleeves in an album.
Baby Shower Picture Album Page
The mommy to be got to take home a completed album ready for pictures of her baby in all her new fashions. It turned out well, and I think everyone enjoyed the activity!
It’s hard to believe it’s time for the May Author of the Month – the last of the school year! Mem Fox is my pick for May. Some of her books are geared toward younger kids or babies (and they are wonderful too!) but that’s ok since May is such a busy month and may require a shorter than usual author study. Her books are so perfect for May because they work well with both Mother’s Day and end of the school year activities. A word of warning though – some of her books are tearjerkers so practice reading them ahead of time!
For Mother’s Day I like Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild and Koala Lou (see my post about the Olympics for more information on Koala Lou) – 2 sweet and funny looks at mother/child relationships. Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild also works well to remind kids about using self control and following classroom rules just when they think they can’t possibly sit still for another minute of school before summer vacation begins.
For more end of the school year activities I like Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. It’s all about memories. Have kids make memory books or write top ten lists about the school year after reading the book.
So there you have it, a whole school year of Author of the Month activities. I must say, I always felt that doing Author of the Month was one of the most valuable experiences of the school year. I hope you are able to integrate author studies into your classroom or your home activities in some way. It’s a great way to inspire new readers to become enthusiastic lifelong readers!