Exciting Changes for Our Family!

You may have noticed that I haven’t been publishing as often as I’d like to over the last couple of months.¬†I have so many wonderful books and ideas to share! But with some upcoming changes in our family life, I wanted to announce that I will slowing down with the blog.

Last month, I accepted a full-time teaching position for the upcoming school year. I’m excited to return to teaching in the classroom! I believe that God has opened this door for our family. My daughters will be attending private preschool and my oldest is especially excited for that!

So this summer will be filled with lots of family time and preparations for the upcoming school year…. Hooray! I still hope to post on Sunshine Readers from time to time, but I’m not quite sure how often that will be. Please continue to stop by, or click on the button on the right to follow the blog so you receive an email notifying you of new posts.

Happy reading and happy summer! ūüôā

7 Ideas for Fun Summer Learning

Can you believe it’s already June?! At this time of the year, the last thing our kids probably want to hear is the word “learning.” But learning in the summer can be fairly easy to sneak in… ¬†and lots of fun!¬†Here are 7 fun ideas for summer learning:

  1. Read, read, read! This is an obvious one, but arguably¬†the most important. For young children or struggling readers, be intentional about reading aloud daily whenever possible. (Audio books can be helpful, too!) For more¬†fluent readers, help find¬†enjoyable¬†reads at the public library or local bookstore. Magazines, comic books and graphic novels count! Just make sure you’re comfortable with the content of the literature – and if you’re uncertain, don’t hesitate to research online¬†or inquire with the¬†children’s librarian.
  2. Sign up for your public library’s summer reading program. Building on the first suggestion of reading, spend time at your local library and participate in their summer reading program if they offer one. These reading programs¬†vary from place to place, but are often a motivator to keep reading throughout the summer… as well¬†as a reminder to visit the library for fresh books as the summer goes on.
  3. Explore new places together. This can be as extravagant or as simple as your schedule and budget allow. Take a family vacation or go camping for a weekend.¬†Visit¬†a lighthouse, nature center or children’s museum in your area. Attend a festival or community event. Whatever activity you choose, be sure to¬†include some¬†relaxed, informal discussion time¬†with your child to help make a connection between those activities and real-life history, culture, and so on.
  4. ¬†Limit¬†entertainment¬†screen time.¬†I understand this is not possible for every family,¬†but if possible, limit your child’s entertainment screen time such as movies, TV shows and video games/iPad games. Encourage your child to find other things to do to keep their minds and bodies more active.
  5. Utilize educational screen time/technology. On the flip side, allowing your child to¬†a set amount of¬†screen time for educational purposes can help them maintain their progress from the current school year or even make academic gains. It can also be a time to learn something new that interests your child but might not be a part of their typical school-year¬†learning.¬†Diverse apps and websites (many for free!) can allow your child to¬†learn¬†a foreign language,¬†track¬†NASA space missions, or even¬†design his/her own video game….. The possibilities are endless!
  6. Sign up for a cool new activity. Park and Recreation departments frequently offer reasonably-priced summer activities. Check out what’s available in your area and let your child discover¬†a new skill or sport, from dance to soccer to art.
  7. Play board games as a family. Many board games help children learn social concepts (such as taking turns and understanding they won’t always win) as well as deeper critical thinking skills (such as number order, addition and subtraction, spelling, etc.). Make some popcorn and sit down for a board game or card game that’s age appropriate.

These 7 suggestions can help your child keep learning throughout the summer, even when he/she doesn’t realize it. ūüôā I’m sure there are plenty more ideas out there… I’d love to hear them!

Silly Summer Read-Aloud

All summer, my kids have been asking me to get a watermelon each time we shop at the grocery store. Although I am not a big fan of watermelon, I’m happy to purchase it and slice it up for my family to eat week after week.

Not surprisingly, when one of my daughters recently spotted The Watermelon Seed at the library, it caught her attention immediately. She sat down among the rows of bookshelves and began to peruse it. After finishing her pre-read of the book, she put it in our “check out” pile. Soon after we arrived home, everyone piled on the couch and laughed aloud at the silly text and illustrations. We have read it multiple times and even shared it with friends when they came to our home to play. What a great summer read-aloud!

Even if, like me, you’ve had your fill of eating watermelon for the season, The Watermelon Seed is sure to be a refreshing read with your little ones.

Best Age: prek-1st grade

For Parents:

  • Pick out a watermelon at the store together. Slice it up to eat while you read aloud together.
  • Invite friends over for a fruit bash! Ask each friend to bring along their favorite fruit. Make a fruit salad together. Read The Watermelon Seed before/after/while you eat the fruit salad together. Take a moment to point out the importance of “eating the rainbow” for good health.

For Teachers:

  • Take a class poll of favorite fruits. Create a chart that represents the number of students who like each fruit best. Discuss¬†the importance of “eating the rainbow” for good health.
  • Have students finger paint a watermelon slice. Cut up white paper plates in half or quarters. Use red paint for the inner fruit and green tissue paper for the rind. Hole punchers and a sheet of black construction paper make great seeds! Hang up the completed watermelon slices around the classroom or make a fun bulletin board (hang up favorite fruit chart in the middle if desired).