Top 3 Free Resources to Prevent the Dreaded Summer Slide

It is summer! Praise the Lord. No more crazy in-depth curriculum, no more tests, no more school! If your kids are anything like mine, they are super excited to be free from school for a while.

But what about their progress from the school year? Have you ever heard the term “Summer Slide”? It is coined a slide due to the fact that children lose about 2 months worth of skill levels during the summer. It may not sounds like much, but it adds up. Especially when the kids go back to school and the teachers have to focus on reviewing skills instead of building on the skills they learned the year prior.

In an article by published by John Hopkins School of Education the author stated this about summer education loss “Early summer learning losses have later life consequences, including high school curriculum placement, whether kids drop out of high school, and whether they attend college.” (You can read the full article here: Why Summer Learning Deserves a Front-Row Seat in the Education Reform Arena).

With all that said, while it is important to have summer vacation, it is just as vital to continue building the skills your children learn through the summer. So, I have some free (or cheap) resources for you to check out!

  1. Abcmouse.com

Abcmouse.com is an online learning resource (also an app!) for children ranging from pre-K to 2nd grade. My kids absolutely adore it! It is a very entertaining way to help your kids retain skills and learn even more on top of that.

They offer different tracks that teach reading, math, listening skills, science and art skills. Your child can venture through the various levels at their own pace. There are a ton of fun “prizes” for the kiddos to earn along the way.

At the end of their learning track, the kids earn a “graduation certificate”. My daughter was so happy she “graduated” that we had to put the certificate up on our living room wall!

Abcmouse.com offers one free month and then is fairly cheap after that! So, if you’re interested click the link below and check it out:


 

2. Your Local Library

Being a home school family, our library is such an amazing resource for us. Do you get to your library often? You should! Our library offers an incredible summer reading program. This year’s theme is “Building a Better Community”. The kids participate by reading books and marking them down in a book tracker.

Every time the kiddos finish a section, they receive a prize! The prizes range from a sticker to a free pass to a museum. Then, at the end of the summer, the kids that finish the program get to go to a pool party just for them! Not to mention the fun, educational shows the library puts on every week during the summer.

Our kids love doing this program every year and it has been pretty cool to see their love for reading continue to blossom! I highly suggest checking out your public library to see what they have to offer!

3. PBS

PBS is another great free resource for parents to aid in their child’s education. They offer television programming to free apps for devices. They have an entire website dedicated to the kiddos!

The website shares many ways to get involved, including the PBS app, PBS television and printable activities. Here is the link: PBS Kids Summer Adventures.

P.S. if you have a little one that likes to use a tablet (let’s be honest, they all do!) the PBS app is great for educational games that allow your kids to play with their favorite characters and learn skills like math, science and reading.

Those are the three resources we use most during the summer! What other resources do you use? Happy Summer!!

Squirt Gun Painting

Summer seems to be here, at least weather wise! I have been trying to get my kids outdoors more and more each day. Two things that they always love to do is paint and have a water gun fight. So, why not put that together?! I took our easel outdoors, snapped some new paper into place and let the kids create squirt gun paintings.

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We used water guns, water spray bottles and condiment squirt bottles. The kids LOVED it! If you want to try it, just mix together some washable, nontoxic paint (we enjoy Crayola paint, which you can purchase with this link: Crayola Washable Paint) with water using a 2 paint:1 water ratio. We played around with how much water to use and it seemed like the paint was more vibrant and easily squirtable with a 2:1 ratio! After you mix it, simply pour into your desired squirt gun and have a blast!

Word of caution, don’t do this inside. It got a little crazy and paint pretty much covered our yard, driveway, car, plants and children!

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Fun, Kid Friendly Pancakes!

The littles are hard to feed sometimes. (Can I get an amen!) I have to get creative from time to time so that they’ll eat. I know, I know, “if they are hungry enough they will eat what you make”. Well, I’m too tired for all that! In any case, this little trick is super easy and in all honesty really fun to do!

I used to have a pancake batter dispenser that cost too much and broke too soon. I needed a way to get fancy with the pancakes without that thing. So, Amazon shopping I went! I bought this gem:

KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera

These squeeze bottles work wonderfully! You simply pour your pancake batter into the squeeze bottle and start designing anything that your little heart desires.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Here are some ideas:

ruff-family-circus-pancakesLittle round dippers, shapes, cars, trains, names, ninja turtles, mickey mouse.etc.

*Tip: In order to get better lines, outline the shape first and then fill it in. Also, if you are going to be doing letters or names, make sure to write them backwards otherwise they end up like this:

KODAK Digital Still Camera
OOPS!!

Here is the recipe that I used:

  • 2 Cup of flour (I use Great River Organic Flour, it’s amazing!)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, optional (I use honey)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted organic butter
  • Organic coconut oil for cooking

(This recipe is one of a million recipes, so please use whatever one fits your dietary needs.)

Needless to say, the kids loved their breakfast and ate pretty much all of it! Plus, any pancake that they didn’t eat, is easily frozen for another day.

 

For more fun and learning, please subscribe to our emailing list and receive a free 10 week summer curriculum for PreK-1st grade!

 

**This site has Amazon Affiliate links. When you click on the link and purchase through Amazon, I will receive a percentage at no extra cost to you!!**

Summer Home Schooling

If you are anything like me, (crazy and needing organization, lol!) you like to keep your kids education going through the summer with light and fun activities. I am NOT talking about full-blown school here, I need a break from that! With that said, I put together our summer curriculum over the past couple of weeks. It is aimed at the age of my children; PreK-1st grade.

I was inspired by another curriculum called Five In A Row, however, I figured I am more than capable of writing my own while using the books that we have already purchased. In any case, you can check it out:

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Each week has a specific book assigned to it. There are different activities Monday through Friday. All the activities are detailed and include a material list. There is also a separate material list included in the PDF organized by week.

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Every Friday during this 10 week curriculum, the children will use this printable journal page to answer the weekly journal question (by writing on their own, copying the words or tracing them!) and draw a picture of their answer. At the end of the 10 weeks, each child will have their very own completed journal!

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The printable PDF includes all 10 weeks worth of detailed activities, the printable journal page, a full material list organized by week, a full book list and instructions.

We are going to start using the curriculum in June. Now, you can too! If you want a FREE copy of this curriculum, let us know on our Contact Us page!

Until next time!

DIY: Rustic Wedding Centerpieces

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I have been a part of two weddings that have had a glamorous rustic theme. In both instances, there were a lot of projects that we did on our own. Today we are going to talk about three simple projects that can make any rustic wedding centerpiece uniquely amazing!

The three favorites that I have ventured to make on my own include painted mason jars, ruffled tissue paper flowers and wood block pictures.

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1. The mason jars! They are so easy it’s silly! I picked up different types of regular ole mason jars from second-hand stores. (That way they were cheaper and unique!) I suggest washing and drying them before starting to paint!

For the pictured mason jars, it just so happened that I had left over mint colored paint from painting our bathroom, so that’s what I used. The wedding colors were mint, gold and ivory! For the gold, I bought metallic gold paint from Wal-Mart. But, for you, any paint you want will do!

After you pick out the paint, simply use painters tape to make designs. For these particular jars, I taped in sections for the half painted ones and chevron angles for the jars with mint and gold. I found that if you want the jars completely one color, it’s best to paint the inside. Otherwise the designs are easier painted on the outside of the jar! Once they are all painted and dry, add some  twine for a more country feel!

 2. The tissue paper ruffled flowers! These are extremely easy! I picked white and tan for these flowers. You can pick whatever colors match your wedding and buy them at just about any retailer! After you pick your colors, stack the tissue paper on top of each other, using about 4-6 pieces per flower. Once stacked, fold the paper back and forth using a folding fan like method. The folds will vary depending on the size flower you want. For these flowers, I folded each flap about one inch. When you are all done folding, the tissue paper should look like an accordion.

To hold the paper together, I bought some floral wire and wrapped it around the middle of the paper. After you have wrapped the paper, the rest of the wire should look like a stem. Once held together, cut each end of the folded paper  in a half circle. This should make each end look rounded.

Now you should have the folded paper (accordion style) wrapped in the wire with a stem, with both paper ends rounded. Next, simply ruffle the paper out! Do this kind of gently because the tissue paper will rip. I used these flowers inside of the mason jars behind the wood block pictures of the couple!

3. The wood block pictures! Again, these look a lot harder than they actually are to make and they are a beautiful bold statement piece of the couple! The first thing that you need to do is figure out the size you want. For these pictures, I chose 8×10.

After that is all squared away, go to Home Depot, Menards or Loews and buy some lumber. Make sure that the width and length of the wood will work with the size and quantity of the pictures you want. Now, most places will cut the wood down for you (probably for some kind of small charge after the first cut). I am fortunate to have a handyman husband and he just cut it for me!

The pictures themselves can be printed right from your laser jet printer at home! You should use regular printer paper and regular ink for this project. If you use picture paper, it will be way to stiff to work with! You can also have them printed at Office Depot on regular paper.

Now, you should have the picture printed and the wood cut to size. The next step requires Mod Podge and a paint brush. First, paint some Mod Podge onto the wood itself. Next, Place and press the picture on the wood that is covered in Mod Podge. This step should be done carefully and slowly to avoid getting air bubbles underneath. Last, paint a light coat of Mod Podge on top of the picture, let that dry and add a second coat. Voila, a wood block picture!

Add them all together and you end up with a great, rustic centerpiece that is pretty cost-effective!

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