How short the days are long
How fast the days of slow go away
So I'm wading right in, playing your games,
And I'm running the full length of summer...
By your side
I love that song by Christine Dente. For the past few years, I've really tried to make our summertimes full of interesting outings and activities, while preserving the carefree, lazy feel of summer. Sound contradictory? I think it is. On the one hand, I want my kids to relax, to have fun, to enjoy their childhood, and I don't want to over schedule their days. On the other hand, I want them to explore, to grow, to create, and to engage with life....and I don't want them to play video games or watch t.v. all day. So, how to find a healthy, fun balance?
When we have a nice list, and everyone has had three to five turns, we hang our list on the refridgerator. We begin brainstorming on ways to make the list a reality. For example, "Go to acorn land," was suggested by my little boy. We decided a nature walk through the woods to look for acorns would be a good interpretation of this desire.
Through the summer, at the end of each week, we look over our list. We try to schedule at least one item from the list on the calendar for next week. We put a check mark by anything on the list we did during that current week. We also jot down "extras"....things that we did during the week that weren't on the list, but that we got to experience and everyone thought was really cool. Thus "pet an alligator" and "discovered pig island" got added to the list over the course of the summer.
I must also add that we are very blessed to live in an area with an outstanding public library system and an outstanding county park board. Our public libraries and the parks offer free programs throughout the summer. We always look over their programs, and the children pick out things like guided creek explorations that they'd like to participate in.
This is how I keep track of our schedule over the summer. This is a paragraph taken from my blog during August of 2008, at the end of the first summer I put this system into place.
... my plan at the beginning of the summer to do a “space camp” theme. We absolutely did that, and it went *great*. The kids really got into decorating the fridge to be our mission control center. I cut sections out of colored paper and taped them together to make on sheet of paper with five colored sections in yellow, orange, red, purple, blue. At the top of each section I wrote a day of the week, then I laminated the paper. That was our dry erase board for our “shuttle flights”. Since Little Guy is working on learning to tell time, I also printed some blank clock faces, cut them out, and laminated them as well. For each “shuttle flight” I used sticky tack to put a clock face on that day, and drew clock hands to show what time we were leaving the house for that outing. We also each had a “pre-flight routine” and a “landing procedure”…which were our checklists for our morning and afternoon tasks. I got foil star stickers and kept a sheet of them on the fridge. Each day, when the kids finished the items on their lists, they put a star next to that item. At the end of the week, whoever had the most stars, got to pick a special activity that we all did together (like family game night, bike riding, pick a movie from blockbusters, make cookies, etc). And if they tied in their number of star points, or came close to tying, they each got to pick an activity. The whole system worked so well, and was enjoyed so much, we going to continue it through the school year.
This summer, I'm doubly challenged, because this summer, for the first time, we have a Wii and each child has their own Nintendo DS games. I have some thoughts on what I might do to balance active play and enriching activites (like reading and art) with their video game time. But, I'll save that for another post.
In the meantime, here is our "bucket list" for this summer:
--go to China (this is from the same child who said "go to acorn land" last year)
--go to COSI
--visit Serpentine Mound
--go to the Children's Museum
--meet an alien
--see some buffalo
--see Pig Island
--go miniture golfing
--Acorn Land again!!!
--learn orienteering and go Letterboxing
--go on the slip and slide
--make apple pie
--set up a sundial
--go to a mall
--go to a waterpark
--visit a historic village
--go to the movies
--climb a tree
--make homemade ice cream
Have fun making your own "summer bucket list"!
For the Making Memories introduction and guidelines, please click here.