8 Fun and Easy Ideas for Keeping Skills Sharp During the Summer

here it is...what you have all been looking for....8+Funs and Easy Ways for Keeping SkillsSharp During those Summer Monthe...Bet you will LOVE them ALL...My fave is # 7

We all know that it can be difficult to keep kids working through the summer.  On one hand, we want our children to have fun and enjoy the summer and on the other hand, we don't want everything they have learned to simply rent space in their brains soon to take a hike once the school year is over...we want those skills and strategies to make a permanent home in their brains and stay as long as they can!

We also know how we wish our students would work during the summer to keep all the skills and strategies that they have learned all year long sharp without gaps and ready to go when school begins the next school year. You always have some students who never stop working over the summer and others who never work at all over the summer. There are so many ways to keep the kiddos that leave your classroom ready to "jump" back into learning come fall and bridge the gap between summer and fall.

Here are a few tried and true ideas to share with parents and colleagues:  Fun and Easy Ideas for Keeping Skills Sharp During the Summer Months:

1.  Have each student make a "Summer Journal" to jot down daily activities that they did over the summer. This is a great way to keep students writing over the summer and they can add pictures and captions somewhat like a scrapbook filled with summer memories. This can be a great way for children to document memories. How much fun will they have looking back on this as a young adult? These journals can be brought form home and decorated, run off on paper or even purchased at a dollar store. Here is one I made especially for this purpose. It is a print, assemble and go product and can be found on my shop Sunshine and Lollipops  Oh and did I tell you that it is only $1.50?


2.  Use a blank calendar and brainstorm ideas with your class that they can do over the summer to keep skills sharp. Ideas such as counting how many shoes your mom has in the closet to how many steps it is around the neighborhood to measuring the perimeter or area of a room in their house. Your students can then jot these ideas down on different dates on their calendar and complete them through the summer.

3.  You can copy ideas from the class and type them into a calendar frame for each student to take home through the summer to work with when they are faced with a rainy summer day at the shore or traveling to a vacation destination...remember if a car travels 60 miles per hour and it takes 2 1/2 hours to get to Orlando, how many miles have we traveled? Oh how many of you remember those questions?? Oh, before I forget, if you teach first grade...I have one already made up for all you my "fun"tastic first grade BFF's...Oops! I am just assuming that I AM your BEST FRIEND right about now...Am I right? I did all the work for YOU!!! Yep here it is Summer Calendar for First Grade




4.  Make up a packet of review math skills that were taught throughout the school year for children to bring home over the summer. Sorry guys...don't have this one pre-made...but I bet someone else does...get over to that TpT search engine and start typing!!!

5.  Summer educational field trips are another easy way to keep kids thinking over the summer. Depending where you live, scope out some ideas, jot these ideas in a newsletter and send it home with children. Around where I live, we have a zoo, arboretums, the Crayola Crayon Factory, Please Touch Museum, lots of history and much more! I KNOW parents will love to have the ideas right at their fingertips!!!

6.  Make up a Summer Reading List of Books that are geared toward your student's grade level and interests and send it home with students. You might want to include some generic frames or book craft ideas for students to use to respond to their reading.

7.  Many times while students are sitting on the beach, they can, at times become...you know that infamous word that begins with a B and we dislike it when a child says it, but in today's world, I hear it ALL the time...even from my 4 year old granddaughter...how can you possibly be B-O-R-E-D at 4...so actually they might have this B-word happen on the beach. Check this out...yep pages to work on while your sitting at the beach or pool. Are you lovin' it?   Now, I know I will definitely be your BBF "Bestie Blogger Friend"when you see this...

8.  Here are some fun ideas to add a little math and ELA fun to your summer. You are sitting at the pool or beach or driving in the car and...OH NO the B-word again...so what do you do? Jot these down and you will be covered.
  • How many steps do you think it will take you to get to the snack bar? Estimate and check...where you right? How many more or less steps did it take you? See how many steps it takes your friend, sister anyone sitting near you. 
  •  In the car...do you remember the alphabet game? Give each child a piece of paper and you if you are so inclined to play and see how many items you can find that begin with each letter of the alphabet or look for signs and just jot down words you see that begin with each letter of the alphabet. You can do this for shapes (3-D shapes as well)...remember finding license plates from various states...list those as well and see who can find the most...then put them in alphabetical order! 
  • On the beach, find some seashells and categorize them according to color, shape, texture etc. Oh and did I mention recording how many times you can jump, hop, blink your eyes, do jumping jacks, jump rope in a minute...they can guess or estimate and see if they are right...I think you get the idea...put those little brains in action and tire them out!! What am I kidding...you will never tire a child. They have more energy than you and I put together! Maybe jot down these ideas in an End of School Year Summer Fun Idea Newsletter...who knows I might just create it as a freebie before the school year ends... and HERE IT IS: it includes a few of the ideas listed above compiled into a Summer Vacation Companion!  Free Summer Vacation Companion Activities and Worksheets Not Grade Specific  

I know what you are thinking: " Okay, this all sounds great on paper, but where is the accountability and are the students really going to do this over the summer?" Here is what I did with my first and second graders: I created a packet for my students to use so they could keep their skills sharp and move right on into second or third grade without missing a beat. Then I would have the children visit me in the fall during the first couple weeks of school and show me the work they completed. I then gave them a Summer Award and a special “second grade” or "third grade" school supply. I usually got a pencil that said,” Second Graders are Great”, "Third grade is Terrific" or something like that!! My school also gave summer assignments, but I still sent ideas, packets or Summer Calendars home because it was a super way to support our summer program and gave more specific ideas of activities to complete. I would staple a Summer Calendar into one packet and then a journal with response pages into another packet and send this home for summer work in a Beach pail. It worked with about 90-95% of the students I taught.

 PS- It might be fun to keep a Summer Journal or scrapbook to share with your incoming students next year! I hope this brings a little sunshine your way! Have fun you deserve it! Soak up a little sun for me while you are at it!!

Oh...and here is another fun summer idea...so...I guess I really have 9 ideas...Oh Well...Summer Charades Game 

This is fun for everyone...children and adults!!!
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Lazy Hazy Days of Summer: I Hope Your Summer is Filled with Many SUNNY Days...BUT...Here are 5 Activities Just Incase for Home and School


Just a few ideas that you may want to check out...just in case you have a rainy summer day!

Although school is still in session in many Northeastern States and it is hard to think about a rainy day in summer...(say what??? It's rainy Oh no..we can't go to the pool, the beach is out and everyone will be at the museums...I need some activities that we can do at home!!!) there will definitely be a day when in rains, I mean pours, I mean thunderstorm and hail...Summer Storms...Ya gotta love them or hate them. If this weather approaches, you DO need something for the kiddos to do while you are stuck inside the house. Well...Sunshine and Lollipops is here to save the DAY...that means that ideas are on the WAY!

So...before I give you my BIG FUN Sea Creature IDEA, I am going to list some easy fun ideas that can be done on a rainy day or any day! These are tried and true ideas that I have used with my own kiddos in years past! I do think they are a bit better than being tethered to an electronic device all day!!!

1. My kids and I loved making popsicles out of various juices...actually sometimes we used various sodas or pops, but in today's world that is a no...no...so here is a pin I found that gives you many ideas to chose from...Oh BTW if you have small paper cups and popsicle sticks from the craft store on hand,you will not have to use or use fancy molds and the kids can partially freeze and layer the pops.
2.  Now this one is daring, but I did it with my younger kiddos, but you do need to be present and watching...well...I guess you need to present and watching for most of these ideas!! I used to have the kids get into their bathing suits and play in the bathtub with water toys.  They LOVED it and it was almost as good as being in a pool...perhaps not quite as fun, but none the less a fun time in a pinch!!!
Of course I would be right there watching and splashing with them!!!

3. Finger painting with food or make your own editable pretty good tasting finger paint...
                          Finger Paint to Eat??
I have also "painted" with pudding, peanut butter, raspberries, blackberries and yogurt...Oh and if you want to add a little learning...give the kiddos sight words to write or sentences!!

4.  Fruit and Veggie Prints:  Cut some old fruit in half and dip it in paint. Then stamp it onto white paper, tee shirts, white napkins or pillowcases for some fun creating!! Apples, pears, oranges, peppers, celery,lemons, limes, orange sections,carrots and potatoes work great!!  I am sure you can think of a few more!! i would suggest putting a fork through the top as a handle for stamping.  There are so many examples on Pinterest that I decided to give you a link to all of them...WOW! 

5.  I have a zillion ideas, but this post would be way to long.  So...Now..it is time for the Sea Creature Idea...actually Jellyfish fun idea!!!
First: You will need plain white paper plates cut in half with 4 holes punched across the bottom. I used pipe cleaners and had the kiddos connect them to the paper plate by threading and twisting the pipe cleaners. You will also need an assortment of beads, macaroni/pasta, cut up straws and anything that you can find that has a whole through...buttons might work as well.  We also used google eyes, but beads or buttons work too!  To add a sensory piece for Kinders I used the large fuzzy pipe cleaners, which you will see as the kids are working.
Then they decorated the front of the paper plate (names on the back) and began to thread the beads and pasta onto each pipe cleaner. Everyone was able to do this...some with a tiny bit of help!


BTW...you could have heard a pin drop during this activity...if you try this at home it MAY be a little different! Ha ha!
Next we added eyes!!
This is what we had...some VERY Cute Stingy Swirly Moveable Fun Jellyfish!!
Add a little phrase, some cute fish with names and it becomes...
A BULLETIN BOARD!!!  or for home add another pipe cleaner and it can...
Hang from a light or the ceiling and decorated your child's Room or playroom!!

I hope you have many sunny days this summer, but if you need a filler...Why not try one of these fun ideas??? Don't forget to comment with some of your favorite ideas!
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Happy Mother's Day to My First Teacher...My Mom



Mother's Day is Sunday, May 14th...a time to set the day aside to remember all that our Moms have done for us whether they are still with us on this Earth or watching over us from above. Although I do believe that everyday should be Mother's Day...I mean, think about it, where would you be without your Mom? She was your first teacher. She taught you how to talk, walk and eat. She fed you and took care of you as much as her life would allow. Yes, she was your first educator and she did not, in most cases, have a degree in education, yet she taught you everything she knew... the best she knew how! So, on this day that we set aside to honor our Mothers. I would like to take a few minutes and share with you what I have learned from my Mom. The pages of my memories and lessons go on and on and it is hard to put a lifetime of lessons in one post...so i will give you the abridged Reader's Digest version!

Let me ponder a bit and chat a bit with my Mom who now looks down on me with loving eyes...did I mention that I never heard you raise your voice?  Hmmmm...did I have a chance to thank you for everything you have taught me? I'm really not sure, but I am hoping that I did.
I remember sitting in that hospital room thinking about all that you have taught me and wondering if I had thanked you for all you have taught me, but at that point you were not really aware that I was even there sitting at he bottom of your bed...except one time as I decided to refreshen my make-up( something you always told me to do...you said it was important for my husband to see me looking my best...where did those days go?...any way you looked up and said, "You're putting your make-up on."

Every so often I discover a note from me to you that you tucked away in a small corner of a box or folded neatly in an envelope all torn and brown around the edges...and I can tell through these clippings and saved treasures that you were a gatherer of memories... you saved everything and I mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g from cards I wrote to you in elementary school to newspaper articles that had a slight mention of my name, report cards...some of which I would rather forget, awards and even a thank you note I wrote to you and dad for my wedding not to mention all the clippings, photos, drawings and treasures from your grandkids. OOPS! There was also the recording of dad singing to you when he was in the service that he sent you in 1940's...see...Mom, these discoveries show me that you loved your family and family was important to you.  This was the number one lesson you taught me. I didn't need to find these momentos or trinkets to recognize and feel your love for family...

You showed us, through your example and our life's experiences that family was and should be a number one priority! You were selfless through all those years and always, always put your family FIRST!!

There are so many values you taught me from your example. You showed me the importance of being kind and loving, to help others...I can't even list all the people you helped in so many ways from relatives, friends, employees to strangers..... but you also remembered to take time for yourself to recharge your batteries...not the car batteries, but your mind and body.


"One day, as I recall, you told me,"Kathy, it does not mean your a bad mom if you leave the kids with a babysitter and take some time for yourself. Get a good book and go have lunch by yourself. It will recharge your batteries!"  GREAT ADVICE!

You LOVED to dance and you always danced like no one was watching and everyone knows how much I love to dance. That showed me that it is also important to have FUN ! You were classy, funny, sophisticated, a creative thinker and loved to dress up!  You were a trend setter...I have fond memories of riding in our 1959 powder blue caddie with the top down, you with your new hair color (blonde) and a french twist that was the newest trend back then. I thought I was riding with Barbie!

You demonstrated the importance of commitment, understanding, empathy, perseverance, working hard to reach your goals. to never give up, do your best, replace curse words with phrases like "hells bells and Christmas trees (lol)" and the list goes on and on and on.

"You were ahead of your time, extremely independent and an entrepreneur with the restaurant business..."


You were the backbone of "Marras" taking care of E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G...if someone did not come in,  you became, a waitress or a hostess or a cook...oh and did I mention what a creative and fabulous cook you were?  You always wanted to write a cookbook, but that was something that never quite happened....I did find all the recipes that you saved in the cigar boxes...yep that's where you always put your treasures... in the flip-top cigar boxes from the days you sold cigars in the restaurant!

It has been over 20 years since you left us but I feel your presence everyday sometimes, I go to the phone and think about calling you...wouldn't that be awesome if we had a direct line to call our loved ones up in heaven?

So on this Mother's Day if I could chat with you for just a minute, I would say...thank you for all you taught me and for being YOU!  Happy Mother's Day...and as you would say...I love you too much, Kitten!



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Join the Spinning Craze and Make it a Learning Experience: 10 Ways to Use Spinners as a Teaching Tool!


Let's turn the Spinning Craze into a learning experience with these 10 easy ways to use spinners as a teaching tool. I am sure you will LOVE #7!

Are you as tired, but as intrigued as I am with all the different types of spinners there are everywhere you go and the fact that they get hundreds upon hundreds of new shipments practically everyday? I have seen sports themed spinners, USA spinners, Light Up spinners, black, tie-dyed and rainbow spinners to name a few! I have to admit...they are mesmerizing!

Mention the s-word and right before your eyes someone says, "Oh, I have one right here!" They do have a purpose, but they are also the 2017 craze like Pokemon cards, Cabbage Patch Dolls and all the other toys you HAD TO HAVE when you were younger.  They have been banned from schools and I am sure many teachers are a bit crazed, for lack of a better word,  at how many of their students own a spinner. They can be purchased everywhere: AMAZON, 5 Below, Learning Express, Hallmark, Wawa, 7-Eleven and I might just set up a stand in my front yard!


Today my grandson was off from school and we went to Learning Express to spend a gift card he received for his birthday and what did he pick out?  You guessed it a Tri-Spinner and a Bi-Spinner with cases to hold the various spinners one has...now mind you as of today, May 5, 2017...he has about 5 different spinners and has even made a few with coins and bearings, but this is what he wanted and it was HIS money!!!

Interestingly enough while we were in the shop, they allowed him to come behind the counter because a shipment of brand new spinners had just arrived. So...Brady went behind the counter and took a few hours to pick out the precise one he wanted...that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea.  I can now tell you where every toy, book, game and trinket is located in the store because I walked around so many times waiting.  A few parents walked in looking for...YES...spinners and Brady began to share his knowledge as when they were first created and where(A bit of history) to which one was better and which one should be selected...the phones rang and the sales lady declared that Brady could answer the phones and give the info needed because 90% of the calls were about...YES...spinners! He was offered a job after school as we left, but he really is too young to work.

So as all he-- breaks lose in schools and the craze that is supposed to calm the soul has been deemed as a distraction to many, there is a solution to the craziness especially at the end of the year...USE IT AS A TEACHING TOOL...yes you read that correctly and here are 10 ways you can do this with your kiddos...I guess what I am saying is to have a Fidget Spinning Day.


video

1. Have a contest using a timer to see whose spinner can spin the longest.  Start out with pairs and then the winners will proceed to the next round. Keep it going until their is one winner.

2.  Graph the results of the time it took for the spinners to spin and stop and then find the mean, mode median and range of the times.

3.  Make predictions based on what they know about spinners and see who can come closest to the amount of time the spinner will spin.  So the students, predict, then write the actual time and last, find the difference.

4.  Calculate which surfaces( floor, blacktop, wood, desk, metal surface etc.) support faster or slower spins. Which surface made the spinner spin faster, explain your thinking? Does the spinner spin longer on a surface or in your hand? Explain your thinking.  On one finger or between your fingers? Explain your thinking.  Which kinds of spinners spin the fastest, slowest and graph and compare the results.

5.  How many spinners can you spin on top of each other? Graph the results.

6. Have your students spin their spinners and see who can focus using their spinners while reading to self, listening to a read aloud or doing math( try your best not to get distracted by their spinners spinning). Evaluate the experiment by having them answer questions about the lesson taught.   Then have them write an opinion piece on spinners about help or hinder students' concentrate.

7. Write to persuade by having students write you a letter convincing you or the principal that students should or should not be allowed to bring spinners to school.

8.  Write a piece on how to spin a spinner correctly.

9. Write an opinion piece on which spinner is better or is the Bi-spinner or Tri-Spinner  better and why they feel that way.

10.  Create a game that can use spinners in some way.  Have each team or partnership write about their idea, make it and present it to the class and play it!


I hope you find these ideas helpful...you know the old saying: "When in Rome do as the Romans" and "If you can't beat them, join them." Well...my new saying is: "When the spinner spins, spin along with it!

And I have  freebie for you that you can print and use and GUESS WHAT? It contains some of the ideas above...what more could you ask for!!  


Happy Teacher Appreciation Day and have a little fun with spinners the last few weeks of school!  Keep spinning and smiling!


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