My husband is a teacher and I know first hand how hard great teachers work for each and every one of their students. I see it in the time he commits to grading, planning, and keeping himself educated on the topic. So, during the summer, he has earned his time off. That time has changed over the years. He started teaching as a single guy, got married, and now has two rowdy boys. His summer is now filled with daddy daycare and I am so lucky to share this parenting gig with him. He makes life fun for our whole family. When you are not a stay-at-home parent but become one, it takes A LOT of energy to keep the kids busy, keep them engaged, teach them, all while providing fun. To add a little more routine to their schedule and help balance the day, I hatched up the summer school folder idea.
My oldest son had a homework folder that he would bring home with all of his assignments. He loved this folder and he always felt proud to open it up and complete the assignments inside. (Ha, that won’t last) So my idea started here. I bought each of my kids a folder and decorated it.
I had some questions though. What should a summer school folder include? I didn’t want this to become more work for my husband, or seem like work for my kids! I wanted something that would give them time to work together every day – but mostly something my husband could use when attitudes are bad, boredom hits, or his energy levels were low and he needed a lesson plan. He was a teacher, he understood this concept. So, I decided each week would have theme. It would include an arts and craft project, something unexpected, story ideas, and hidden in the fun, would be tasks with age-appropriate reinforcements that would help develop their skill sets.
I took hours planning. First, I selected nine themes. Then I researched age appropriate activities that followed the theme. I printed, cut, drew, pasted, and colored to prepare the folders and I want to share these ideas with you. Whether you are a stay-at-h0me parent, daycare provider, or working parent – these projects work for day, night or weekend activities.
As always, I started on Pinterest. Credit and links will be included with each project. There are a few worksheets I was unable to create myself and I purchased those from a favorite website Teachers Pay Teachers. In addition to my Monday blog post, I will add the folder theme with project details every Friday so you can prepare for your week. Our first week was all about us.
It started with our names, addresses, phone numbers and included portrait crafts and family trees. My younger son is 2 and my older son 5 and their folders have differences and similarities. The folders also have some projects where they work together, giving my oldest an opportunity to lead. Since I don’t work Fridays, I was able to try a few of the projects out myself and we had a blast!
For Rowan’s folder we included a couple of ongoing items. The first is a summer reading log to track new stories he is introduced to over the summer. I love the little caterpillar in the bottom right corner. I found the free Summer Reading Log on Carrieelle.com – a super cute mom blog with lost of stuff for you to check out.
The second is a summer journal. The journal allows for him to write or draw what he had for lunch, what the weather was like, and what activities he participated in. The journal pages I found on ActivityVilliage.CO.UK. I loved the colors and simplicity behind the worksheet. For the summer journal, I folded the pages in half, wrapped them with a sheet of construction paper and stapled the edge.
A smorgasbord of worksheets filled the folder this week. I selected colorful pages that were interesting to look at and talk about. I downloaded the free All About Me worksheet from Guildcraft Arts & Crafts. My oldest loved being able to complete this independently by drawing – as he is just learning how to read and write words. I read the questions to my youngest and let him color the page as we talked. He stated he LOVES chicken nuggets, then refused to eat them. Go figure.
I found the address worksheet at 123homeschoolme.com. I taped our address and cell phone numbers to the wall in our breakfast area. From time to time we will read them out loud to help both boys memorize the important information. We also discussed emergency numbers – those are easier to remember and my youngest was proud to yell out 9.1.1 along with his big brother.
The family tree I found by searching google for free clipart. There are other options here if you want something with a little more color. The awesome sight word worksheets I found at Confessions of a Homeschooler. There are so many amazing products, I couldn’t believe these came with a free download. Erica provides a great resource for idea sharing and I am glad to have run across her page.
Crafts were low key. The first week was the test of whether my summer school folder idea would work. Overwhelming my husband would drive this project into the ground. Easy does it was my philosophy. In the end, this is suppose to simplify his life, not complicate it. For my older son, he got out a mirror, a piece of white paper, and something to draw with. He drew a portrait of himself from his reflection in the mirror. No ears were lost!
My youngest put together a puzzle. A very special puzzle. I printed a picture of my sons, glued it onto a sheet of construction paper and then cut it into strips. The final product was a personalize puzzle he loved. Photo credit goes to Melissa Nyman Photography. Melissa has captured our family memories for the past five years and I recommend her to anyone in the DC metro area. My Say Cheese blog has even more amazing examples of her work.
My first summer school folder was a success. The boys loved it and my husband survived the week with a smile and sanity still intake. For all those teachers that pull together detailed lessons plans day-in and day-out – Thank You. I have nine weeks of planning ahead of me and continue to be amazed by what you do for our children every day. Thank a teacher and then get your kids signed up for summer school fun the Making it Up As They Grow way. I hope you enjoy these folders as much as we do.
Check back Friday for another folder of fun.