Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Family Fun Nights

Last summer my neighbors and I threw around so many fun ideas for summer vacation. And at the end of the summer, we had followed up on very few of them. This summer, I thought of the saying from the movie Field of Dreams "If you build it they will come". I had the idea to take the month of July, find one day of the week and plan a different dinner time activity for each week. I sent out an email to some neighbors who I'm close with. I told them the four ideas and said for each week, come if you can, don't feel bad if you can't. The activities were as follows:
1) Picnic in the park
2) Weenie Roast at the Beach
3) Lemonade Stand Dinner
4) Driveway Progressive Dinner
Each week was so much fun! Here are the details if you'd like to try them yourself.
Summer Family Fun Nights- Part I
Picnic in the Park
I sent out an email with a sign up sheet for Bread, Salad, Cut Fruit, Bottled Waters, and Adult Beverages. I designated myself as bringing the main course, for which I chose Penne with Meat Sauce. I also brought paper plates, napkins, cups, and plastic utensils.
I am happy to say the Picnic in the Park was a HUGE success. The kids were tickled to have dinner with friends at the park. And once we were done, we moved over to the soccer field where the kids played until the sun went down.


Summer Family Fun Nights- Part II
Weenie Roast at the Beach

I sent out an email for sign-ups for chips, fruit, fixings for s'mores, kid bevs, and adult bevs. I admitted that I knew nothing about having a fire at the beach, so if some dad was willing to take the lead on that it would be greatly appreciated, and of course a great dad rose to the occasion. I brought hot dogs, buns, condiments, and paper goods. Don't be discouraged if you don't live close to the beach. Any bbq pit at your local park will do. Just for fun, I created a scavenger hunt for the kids to do while we made dinner. I took some brown paper bags and wrote several items on the outside for the kids to find such as: dry sand, wet sand, dry rock, wet rock, seaweed, leaf, piece of trash, seashell, etc. The night was so much fun.
Summer Family Fun Nights- Part III
Lemonade Stand Dinner
This was certainly my favorite night of all. I always feel so bad for the kids I see in my neighborhood having a lemonade stand. They try so hard, but I'm never carrying cash when I see them, nor have the time to go back when I do. So, I came up with this idea. What if we could create a lemonade stand and promise customers will come. A Lemonade Stand Dinner! So, kids were assigned a stand for each of the following: lemonade, chips, fruit, bottled water, dessert. My stand was pizza (I went cheap from Costco). The rule was everything you sold cost 10cents. The point of it all was not really to make money, but to simulate a customer-merchant transaction. The kids worked their stands, while the adults purchased their dinners. Then, the adults relieved the kids so that they could go through the line themselves. The cutest thing was that the kids chose not to eat on the grass picnic-style like the parents did. They went back to their stands for anyone who came back for seconds.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Making Reading Fun at Home

Reading during the summer is especially important. It is a time to strengthen comprehension skills and a time to learn to love reading for pleasure. For kids in the primary grades who are still learning how to read, it is important that they do not lose the skills they gained over the past year. Kids in upper grades have gone from learning to read to reading to learn. Much of the information they will be expected to learn going forward in school will be obtained through their own reading. So it is best to keep those comprehension skills sharp. OF COURSE, I have some links from to find great ideas for making reading fun at home.
Kindergarten Reading at Home
First Grade Reading at Home
Second Grade Reading at Home
Third Grade Reading at Home
Fourth Grade Reading at Home
Fifth Grade Reading at Home

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Making Science Fun at Home is always my first stop on an Internet hunt when looking for fun and educational activities to do at home with my kids. Their ideas are easy and creative and my kids love them! Science is always a big hit in and out of the classroom. Its hands-on and that's what kids enjoy most. Here is a list of links from that separates science experiments by grade level.
Kindergarten Science At Home
First Grade Science At Home
Second Grade Science At Home
Third Grade Science At Home
Fourth Grade Science At Home
Fifth Grade Science At Home

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Making Math Fun at Home

Take the opportunity this summer to show your kids that math doesn't have to just be pages in workbooks. Not that there is anything wrong with pages in workbooks. I love I subscribe to their newsletter and I always find the best idea of ways to have fun learning at home. Here are some links to math activities to do at home from that are broken down by grade level! Just point, click, and learn. Easy!
Kindergarten Math at Home
First Grade Math at Home
Second Grade Math at Home
Third Grade Math at Home
Fourth Grade Math at Home
Fifth Grade Math at Home

Monday, July 11, 2011

How to Get Kids to do their Homework

Is it difficult to get your child to sit down after school or over the summer and work on homework or enrichment materials? Do they put up resistance, maybe to the point you give in and give up  trying to make them work? Here is one of the best tools to keep children on track when doing school work at home.

What? A timer? Yes, a timer will make a world of difference when kids are working on school work at home. A common mistake that parents make during homework time is that they expect their kids to sit down for too long of a period of time. And kids automatically think that homework will take a long time and they won't be able to play with friends or watch television afterward. But, research has given us a guideline as to how much time kids should be expected to work on homework each night after school. The rule is 10 multiplied by the grade they are in. For example, a second grader should come home to 20 minutes of homework, a third grader to thirty minutes and so on.
Using a timer during your homework routine reinforces to children that this work is not going to last forever, like they are imagining. In fact, 20 minutes goes by quite fast, and they can keep checking the timer and seeing how much time is left. We've shown you a picture of one of our favorite timers, mainly because it is easy for kids to set themselves and it counts down.
Other helpful hints are to make sure that children have used the restroom and quenched their thirst before the timer starts. When the timer is counting down, they should be seated and working. Also, they should have enough materials to be able to work until the timer beeps. If your child works quickly, make sure they have a journal or a silent reading book that they can transition into if there is any time left after their work is complete.

Friday, July 1, 2011

How to Avoid Summer Learning Loss

Smart Parents Say No to Summer Learning Loss! 
What exactly is summer learning loss? Research shows that children lose between one and three months of learning while on summer vacation from school. In the fall, teachers spend an average of five weeks reviewing material from the previous grade level.
What can you do to ensure that your child retains the skills and information they learned in school last year?
Plan a routine for summer vacation that includes:
1) reviewing concepts from the past year
2) regular visits to your local library or book store, to encourage reading for fun
3) finding teachable moments in everyday activities 

Avoid Summer Learning Loss!
What is summer learning loss? Read more
What are experts saying about it? Read more 

Visit for more ideas on how to avoid summer learning loss.

How to Set Up a Summer Study Routine for Kids

Getting Ready for Fall!
Wondering how to help your child study this summer? Confused about how to set up study time? Make the most of your child's time away from school this summer with the help of the Summer Sack. The Summer Sack is an all-in-one kit  specific to each grade level, preschool through 5th grade. Each kit comes with  tools that teach kids time management, organization, and independence. All these important tools come in an easy to carry pouch that makes summer study time portable for on-the-go summer schedules. This effective program will maximize summer learning, strengthen homework habits when the school year begins, and begin to shift learning into a part of life rather than just a part of school.
 Learn more about the Summer Sack at

Tip Junkie handmade projects

How to Throw a 4th of July Block Party

In years past, our neighborhood has lacked a community Fourth of July tradition. This year, my neighbor Stephanie decided to change that. She has called for a Fourth of July Block Party. The whole street is buzzing. We can't wait. We had a meeting to make sure that all of our bases were covered and that the party would be a real hit. I enlisted my "keep it simple" system that has guided me through many a grand events such as this one.

1. Pick a date. Fourth of July? Done.

2. Send out your invitations. Steph used evite. But since we didn't know all the email addresses for the people on our street, we also printed it out and delivered it in mailboxes. She included the sign up option through evite to have people bring cut fruit, side dishes, desserts and drinks.

4. Get some friends to help out. The cost of this shindig was going to add up quickly. So, we asked for everyone participating to throw in $10. That helped out with the cost of the bounce house, rentals for tables and chairs, and burgers and hot dogs for lunch.

5. Pick a craft. How cute is this? To get the kids excited for our Fourth of July Block Party, we asked them to decorate their bikes and we'll be kicking off the party with a kids parade. I also planned a couple activities to do during the party. I'll be making these adorable cupcakes I found and the kids will be decorating them with red, white and blue candies and fruits. And the teacher in me just melted over this awesome craft from one of my favorite blogs ( We'll be graphing Fourth of July Goldfish and marshmallows.

6. Designate a set up crew. We're all sending our hubbies up 2 hours before the party starts to get it all ready. Thanks in advance hubbies!

7. Show time. I'll keep you posted on how it all turns out. I'm thinking: friends, kids, bounce house, and a day off work? How can you go wrong.

 We couldn't resist renting a snow cone machine to combat the brutal heat

The neighborhood kids all decorated their bikes for a bike parade

Patriotic decorations and costumes made the day that much more fun