summer learning
activities,  lesson planning,  planning,  seasonal activities,  special activities,  summer,  summer activities

Summer with a First Grader

summer learning

Yesterday I shared how I planned for our summer learning last year. Go check out that post! Last summer my girl had just finished kindergarten and my goal was to make sure that she didn’t lose any of the skills that she had learned during her first year of school. This year my goals are a little different. I want to really dig into the things that she finds fascinating and show her that she can take on her own learning. I also want to build a true love of reading for both fun and out of curiosity.

Last year we kept one theme for a whole month, but this year we’re breaking it down a bit and doing a different theme for each week. My girl is really into non-fiction books, especially those about animals. So that’s where I started. I chose 13 National Geographic Kids Books (affiliate link) on topics that fit her interests, and planned each week around one of those topics. I started with these books specifically because they’re age appropriate, I know that she enjoys the way they present information because we already have a good collection of them, and the reading level is right where she can read them on her own with a little bit of a challenge. They’re also very affordable!

Once I had all of the themes picked out, I hopped over to TPT to find supporting materials. I put the theme into the search bar and filtered by grade. I picked enough activities to support math and language each morning and afternoon. After printing those, I checked out Pinterest for some art projects that fit each theme. Once I had learning resources and art ideas I put them all on a spreadsheet, like this:

summer learning

For this specific week the theme is volcanos. Last year we visited a local fossil dig, which was a huge hit, so this felt like a natural fit for a week where we’re talking about types of rocks. I tried to find local field trips for each week. Some were easy – for polar bear week we’re going to the zoo to see the polar bears. Some were definitely more of a challenge, since we’re doing fossils for volcano week, then I had to get a little creative for rocks and gems week – but luckily I remembered that one of our local towns is home to a natural agate cave. I try to keep these trips as inexpensive as possible, using our zoo membership and local metroparks whenever possible, but some of the museums and a trip to a local island that requires a ferry ride will be a little more costly. I spread these throughout the summer so there weren’t large expenses multiple weeks in a row.

I also used the knowledge of activities that we already have planned to support our learning plans. We’re flying to Myrtle Beach for a week, so that felt like a natural opportunity to learn about airplanes. We’ll also spend a week at our county fair with our 4H club, so farm animals made perfect sense for that week.

I’m still making lists and working on structuring our days – because we need that in our lives! So it’s all a work in progress, and it will undoubtedly change as life throws different challenges our way, like last year when my girl broke her arm the second week of summer. Flexibility is key when planning any kind of learning. While I’m all about a schedule, I’m also one to take full advantage of a spontaneous afternoon at a friend’s backyard pool. Summer is supposed to be fun right?!

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