How to Balance Fun + Learning this Summer
Today I am excited to share all the great resources we’re using for summer learning this year. I love the simplicity of summer, but I also love to sneak in some easy + fun learning. These days of summer can be packed with lake days and fun in the backyard, but sometimes I find the kids get a little off-kilter too. I like to have things at the ready to easily pull out and add into our days.
Below you’ll find ideas for days that are too hot or rainy, picture books that offer tons of learning, music and nature ideas and more.
Favorite Tools for Summer Learning
The thing about homeschooling is that there is no definite “school time.” There might be designated “seat work time” where your child sits down and works on workbooks or flashcards with you. But over time, I’ve grown to realize that the homeschool LIFESTYLE is so much more rich and deep and important than the designated workbook time.
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In the summertime, we don’t conduct our homeschool like we do September through May. Summertime is much more free learning, but no less important. Not by a long shot.
Summer learning is for hours and hours spent in nature, observing what new things have popped up in our yard and viewing the new butterfly that’s landed on our flowers.
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Summer learning is for time spent in the hammock with a stack of picture books.
Or maybe summer learning is for spending time together on the couch on a rainy day watching a documentary on butterfly migration to follow up with the discussion about the new butterfly you found that day.
Sometimes though, summer learning IS for some seatwork. Sometimes it takes 30 minutes each morning to sit down with Hooked on Phonics to practice what we’ve worked on over the school year and keep our skills sharp.
With that in mind, this is how I plan what we’re doing for summer learning. I make a mental list of where I think my kids need a little work and gather supplies that might help. I’ll look at our days and see where I can find pockets of time to focus one-on-one with the child that might do well using this summer time to sharpen skills and gain more knowledge.
Then I will gather the things I will use for summer learning. That said, here is our list for this summer!
Nature Study for Summer Learning
There is no better time than summer for learning about nature. And there is no better resource I’ve found than No Sweat Nature Study’s online classes.
Two times per month, the kids can log on to a live class (or catch up with the replay if they can’t make it live) and cover a topic in nature. We began doing No Sweat Nature Classes in October and it has been amazing! The girls have filled up their nature journals with wonderful drawings, loads of vocabulary words, and interesting facts.
A few topics we’ve covered are:
- sedimentary rock
- the color wheel in nature
- stinky critters
- the water cycle
- and SO MANY MORE!!!
If you’re just joining and bummed you’ve missed all these great topics, NO WORRIES! Your membership gets you access to the video library and past classes.
Tools to Save Hot or Rainy Summer Days
We would all love for our children to be frolicking about all day long every single day during the summer, but some days are just TOO DANG HOT or rainy and stormy.
These days are great because you can totally take advantage of indoor ideas like art, documentaries and great podcasts for kids.
For art, we absolutely love Chalk Pastels. There are roughly one MILLION classes and tutorials for your kids to choose from to draw. The lessons are short and sweet and very non-threatening for kids!
Curiosity Stream is our go-to for documentaries. There are hundreds and hundreds of options–it’s like Netflix for documentaries! I wrote a post HERE to share our favorite shows. And recently, CuriosityStream has added a Kids Mode, which is great for weeding out content that might not be the most kid-friendly!
Podcasts are another way we love to learn. The perfect way to help kiddos chill out, maybe pull out their sketchbooks and listen and learn at the same time. Here is an article of our top entertaining + educational podcasts!
Music Around the World This Summer
We recently started using SQUILT in our homeschool and even though school has officially ended for the year, we are still FULL-ON with SQUILT!
It’s structured similarly to the No Sweat Nature Classes. Your child will meet for an online class 2x/month on a different topic of music each month. This summer is amazing because we’re studying music around the world, so it’s very easy to tie in a geographical component with music. The monthly packets include maps as well that you can fill in or whatever you’d like with your child.
In June, we are studying music from South America. July will bring us the music of Europe!
Each month comes with a listening calendar, which we LOVE! Each day has a link to listen to a piece of music based on the monthly theme.
We are LOVING these classes! And they’re also great for rainy days too.
Summer Learning With Picture Books
We are obsessed with picture books in our house and I’m constantly adding in new titles and passing on the titles that weren’t favorites in our house. This summer, I’m sending out a weekly email with a round up of all the things we’re reading each week. You can sign up to get those updates here:
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Biographies for children is one of my most favorite picture book genres. You can find a huge list right here:
Last summer I searched our bookshelves and found our favorite picture books to teach loads of different topics like history, character, math, fine arts, and more! You can find that list here:
Keeping Math Skills Sharp This Summer
Do you have a child that needs a little extra attention in an area? Maybe two?
Me too 🙂
My suggestion for that is to take the free time opportunity of summer to learn with your child in a really gentle way. Here’s what that looks like for us:
One of my children needs some extra attention in reading and math. SO, we’re devoting just a few minutes a day–and sometimes just a few times a week–to those areas.
After breakfast, I will pull out the math book and since we don’t have the extra busyness of regular school year, we are able focus mostly without distraction and do a lesson together in about 20 minutes. It’s actually been really fun!
Then later in the day, maybe after lunch, I will grab an easy reader and have her read me the story to practice her reading skills.
This is the gentle summer learning way that I love to do with my kids.
Math Page a Day
This is a new-to-me product that I am just now ordering with my kids. I love the simple format and the ease of it. It seems a little less annoying to the kids than flashcards, and they can do it easily while laying on the hammock or out on the trampoline.
Saxon for the Win!
If it’s any consolation, I have been homeschooling for 13 years now and I still make mistakes. 🙂 Take this year for instance. My youngest is a first grader. I have used Saxon with all three of my other kids and every time I stray away from Saxon, I SO WISH we had just stuck with Saxon and we go back!
Well, last summer, as I looked over the Saxon 1 book, I didn’t think my youngest would be ready for it. So we tried something else. We hit about March and I realized math was not going super great, I didn’t like the style in which the new curriculum was teaching and she was not nearly as far along in math that I would’ve liked. So I ordered the Saxon 1 workbook….yes, in March.
We started a brand new math curriculum that late in the year and it’s going so much better already. It was a tiny bump in the road, but I feel like we’ve course-corrected and it’s going fine now!
You can see all our curriculum picks from over the years HERE!
SO, this is what our summer learning lineup looks like. I would love to know what YOU are doing for summer learning too!
What other math did you use and then switch back to Saxon?