Monday, June 4, 2012

A Schedule in the Summer? YES!

I stumbled out of bed this morning headed straight for the coffee pot. Before I could reach the promised land, however, I was waylaid by my 8-year-old son who wanted to "show me all the writing" he had done this morning. His bouncing up and down and eager face made me unable to resist. He proceeded to show me two short songs and a comic strip he had written in his journal before I even had a chance to get out of bed. After proudly showing me his products, he announced, "Now, I will practice my math facts!" Here he is playing Math Bingo on the iPad (I'll tell more about that in a minute). Notice, he's still in his pajamas. Ha!

No, my child is not some mutant eager to do any school work without being asked. Usually homework time is a power struggle. In fact, his behavior surprised me so much that I knew I needed to blog about it. You see, yesterday, we sat down as a family to make a very flexible summer schedule. With my hubby and I both being teachers, the whole family is home for the summer, and it is VERY easy to slip into the sleep-until-noon, stay-in-pjs-all-day, veg-in-front-of the-TV kind of mood. I didn't want my family's brains and bodies to turn to mush and also wanted to make sure I had time for blogging. Plus, I am a firm believer that children thrive with at least some structure, so we made a schedule. We listed all the things we might want to do on a daily and weekly basis and then plugged them into time slots. Here is what we came up with:

9-10 a.m.   Exercise, Outdoor Play Time
10-12         Blogging, School Work, Learning Time
1-4 p.m.     Inside Play, Nap, Free Choice, or House Projects Time
7-8 p.m.     Exercise, Outdoor Play Time

I told you, it's very loose and flexible. We kept things in mind like: we are living in Texas, so all outdoor activities need to be done in the morning or evening. I went over the expectations with the kids who both (the 8-year-old and a 13-year-old) seemed excited by it. Then they told me, we had to get supplies.

I knew the educational things we needed to work on were: reading (like I've said before, both kids love to read), writing, and math facts. We had gone to a library sale Friday morning and came home with 27 books for $9.25 so they had plenty to read. And with my Reading Log, I figured we were set in the reading category.

For math facts, I took them to Lakeshore Learning looking for a fun alternative to flash cards. My son chose Learning Wrap-Ups, and we bought the addition and multiplication ones. But they come in various topics and for various levels. You loop the string around the key matching the first number up with the answer to the problem. My son's favorite is the multiplication set since they just started introducing multiplication at the end of his second grade school year. I showed him a few solving strategies such as arrays, skip counting, and the 9s hand trick, and he is hooked! He has sticky notes filled with arrays to help him figure out the harder multiplication problems. If you would like to order some, here is the Amazon link:

Next, I thought about how much my son likes to play on the iPad. I knew there must be amazing apps out there, so I went to a group of teacher/blogger friends to ask their advice. I got wonderful suggestions! We downloaded the free version of Rocket Math and Math Bingo for 99¢. He is OB.SESSED with Rocket Math! The app has you earn money to build rockets by completing sets of math facts. You choose the operation. Then you can blast off your rocket into space to complete missions. For example, the first mission is finding even numbers. And Math Bingo is lots of fun too... and the best part for me is that he can play it on his own.

Finally, for writing, I am firm believer that if you give students choice, they will love writing. So, we went to Target, and I let my son pick out a notebook (he chose a Mario one) and pencils (he chose a set of red, yellow, and blue mechanical ones with replaceable erasers). And I told him he could write about whatever he wanted in that notebook. That's where this morning comes in. He wrote a song about breakfast, one about The Avengers, and a comic strip about The Avengers. And he was excited!!!!

Now, I am curious to see if this gung-ho-edness continues throughout the summer, but so far, so good. I am thrilled that he is willing and excited to do educational activities!


  1. What awesome ideas :) I agree- too much unstructured time leads to boredom (or bad decisions).

    Every New Beginning

  2. Totally agree.... when I teach I do not have behavior problems if kids are actively engaged... same in the summer at home. nice post!

  3. Thanks for the math apps. Our school is just getting started with ipads and it's way too overwhelming just searching the apps store. This is so much better. I know our kids will love them, too. Have a great summer adventure.

    1. Exactly why I went to my sources for recommendations. It is so overwhelming!

  4. I love that he wrote so much and was excited about it. Great picture!

    Thinking Out Loud

    1. Thanks, Jana! I was quite thrilled myself.

  5. Teachers around the world thank you! :)

  6. You had the same thoughts I do with my child! After a whirl-wind weekend at my sister's wedding, I had a pseudo-routine this week but I know it's not good enough. Mapping out a better one tonight! Awesome job on yours and here's hoping the enthusiasm stays!!


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