We don’t stop schooling during the summer, but we do school a little differently. a little lighter, and a little more learner led. We always keep up with math and reading, but the rest of our “school day” is led by the children’s interests. This summer we’ll be spending our days studying plants and we’re shaking up our math and grammar quite a bit with some fun living book studies. We’re also continuing along with American and World History and for the little ones, we’re adding Wee Folk Art’s summer plans into our days.
**I have to apologize that I don’t have all the links for the books done…maybe I’ll eventually get around to it, but I wanted to at least post the plans.
Wee Folk Art
We’re using Wee Folk Art’s summer plans which include studying ponds and weather. We switched the weeks around, so we started by studying ponds (for four weeks) and for the remaining 5 weeks, we’ll be studying weather. Our Wee Folk Art plans basically consist of read-alouds, a poem to memorize, art and music appreciation, and a science experiment. Plus 2 quilt blocks! In the plans are a few pond visits (including the one by Granny’s when we go to visit!) to see pond life (the pictures below are a recent trip out to Pollywog Pond). Here are the books we used for ponds: Frogs; It’s Mine; Box Turtle at Long Creek; Look out for Turtles; Little Wood Duck; Make Way for Ducklings; Have You Seen my Duckling?; Were You a Wild Duck; Ducks Don’t Get Wet; Pond Circle; Eliza and the Dragonfly; In the Small, Small Pond; Turtle Splash: Countdown at the Pond; Near One Cattail. For the quilt blocks, we’re going to be doing handprint blocks, based on the ideas from Marcia Layton’s book Handprint Quilts. Our pond quilt block will be ducks.
Beginning next week, we’ll be studying weather. Our book list includes: Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain; Oh Say Can You Say What’s the Weather Today; Alfie Weather; Come on Rain; Little Cloud; The Cloud Book; Rabbits and Raindrops; Down Comes the Rain; Thunder Cake; Flash, Crash, Rumble and Roar; Rainbow of My Own; All the Colors of the Rainbow. Our quilt block will be rainy days.
I gave the kids a choice for science this summer…plants or oceans. Surprisingly (or not, since what boy doesn’t love dirt?), they chose plants.
The main topics we’re covering are flowers, seeds, leaves, stems and roots. We’re using AIMS Primarily Plants for hands-on experiments and tending our own garden. And, of course, we’re armed with an exciting book list.
Here are our plant books for the summer: The Reason for a Flower; How Flowers Grow; Pick, Pull, Snap; How a Seed Grows; Planting a Rainbow; Sunflower House; From Seed to Plant; The Complete Book of Flower Fairies; Fairy Houses…Everywhere; How to Find Fairy Houses; Fairy Houses of the Maine Coast; In a Nutshell; One Bean; A Tiny Seed; The Dandelion Seed; A Seed is a Suitcase; A Seed is a Promise; DK Eye Know Plants; Peter in Blueberry Land; Growing Vegetable Soup; Going on a Leaf Hunt; Weeds and Wildflowers; Jack’s Garden; To Be Like the Sun; Up, Down, Around; What Do Roots Do.
Before we started our plant unit, I was reading a series of books by GJ Walker Smith. In her books, she tells these fascinating stories about fairies (some of which she made up and some based on legend). I got really excited about fairies, but figured the boys would totally not be interested. I should have realized that at the mere mention of building (fairy houses, of course!) they would be on-board. Joseph, especially, got very excited, taking on the role of the Leaf Fairy (we all get sprinkled by leaves when he passes by us!). The boys spent this past week building fairy houses (and they followed all of the rules, as outlined in the Fairy House books. Our Fairy Houses of the Maine Coast book is missing in the picture above because it spent much of its time outdoors this week, providing inspiration and guidelines.
Our plant unit also happened to correspond with my book club book The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Fascinated by the idea that flowers speak a language and mystified by the process of buying flowers, I enlisted the help of the kids to tackle the world of flowers. First we visited a local florist who was kind enough to teach us everything we wanted to know about what it’s like to be a florist. The kids loved standing in the walk-in refrigerator and each one brought home a flower of their choosing. Our friendly florist explained that by putting flowers in a vase beside your bed you are guaranteed to have sweet dreams. Both William and Joseph were pleased to include this new idea as part of their bedtime routine. I showed Joseph the guide at the back of The Language of the Flowers and just like me, he fell in love with the idea that flowers can speak. He looked up each of our flowers from the florist shop and gasped when he realized the flower of his choosing, the red carnation, meant “my heart breaks.” Before I knew it, he had drawn a bouquet for me based on the meaning of the flowers (apparently, when you are 7 or younger, a flower is a flower is a flower because they simply drew whatever flower they imagined in their drawings and then simply labeled them…it never occurred to them that each flower looks different). My bouquet included flowers that meant beloved daughter, love and sweet and lovely.
Then William and Joseph appeared with another hand-drawn bouquet…this one filled with flowers that did not carry such a loving message. The flowers in this bouquet meant things like I cannot be with you, I do not trust you and, even, I declare war on you. A little shocked at the message, I said, “Oh wow, this bouquet seems a little angry.” “Well, of course! We drew this bouquet for the devil!” A bouquet for the devil…who could have imagined such a thing!
When our initial fresh flowers began to wither, the boys each chose a flower to press and then they kindly requested another trip to the florist. We visited a different florist (the one who did mine and Daxson’s wedding flowers 11 years ago!) and armed with the guide, each child was able to pick out a flower that had a particular meaning. (William insisted on a red carnation. I reminded him, “William a red carnation means ‘my heart breaks'” “Yes, Mommy,” he solemnly replied, “I know.” Hmm, not quite sure what to make of that.) Andrew chose a lily, which means “message” and Joseph ended up with a Chrysanthemum, which means “truth”. All the boys were quite pleased with their choices and the flowers are still sitting beside their beds, bringing them sweet dreams.
We are continuing our study of World History, mostly covering the beginning of Christianity. We’re finishing up Story of the World Volume 1 alongside our RC History lesson plans (the beginning of Volume 2). For American History, we are following Serendipity’s Native American plans, making an ABC Native American book based on D is for Drum and we’re learning quite a bit with the If You Lived With…books. After our Native American study, we’ll review the early colonists.
We are using Ruth Heller’s books and Word Fun for our grammar lessons this summer. One day each week we’re reading a different Ruth Heller book (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, interjections and conjunctions, pronouns) and then later in the week, we’re reading the corresponding section from Word Fun. The Ruth Heller books are awesome…packed full of tons of information and so fun to read. After reading the stories, the boys are making a page of that part of speech to add to their lesson book. Toward the end we’ll be using Punctuation Celebration and Eats, Shoots,& Leaves for a quick review of punctuation.
For our math lessons this summer, we ‘re reading lots of math stories (especially Stuart J. Murphy’s books), playing games (using Family Math) and reviewing math facts (with flashcards and Xtra Math).