Our Summer Reading Shelves

My children love to read (and be read to), so getting them to read books in the summertime is not a difficult thing. But new books are always exciting, and I wanted to expand their reading selections a little bit. So the last day of school my children came home to find…their very own book nook! I rearranged some of our shelves a little bit, so each child has a cubby to store their books and reading logs in. I gave each child a few novels to try, as well as a non-fiction book and a poetry book.

Here is what you will currently find on their shelves.

Anwyn (10 years old)

It’s Raining Pigs & Noodles  by Jack Prelutsky (poetry)

National Geographic 2016 Kids Almanac (non-fiction)

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (Book 1 in the Percy Jackson series)

The 39 Clues: The Sword Thief (she is currently on book 3 of this series)

Everest series: The Contest by Gordon Korman

The Misadventures of Maude March by Audrey Couloumbis

Lily (7 years old)

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (poetry)

Horse Heroes: Magic Tree House Fact Tracker by Mary Pope Osborne (non-fiction)

The Absent Author by Ron Roy (A to Z mysteries)

Ruby the Red Fairy by Daisy Meadows (Rainbow Fairies series)

Amber Brown is not a Crayon by Paula Danziger

Annie and Snowball and the Dress-up Birthday by Cynthia Rylant

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

Zach (5 years old): he is not yet reading independently, although we are making great progress in his reading lessons. Summertime is a great time to re-read our favorite picture books, so I checked out some classics that we love. Here are just a few currently on his shelf.

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins (non-fiction)

Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

Read Aloud

Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary: Lily, Zach, and I are reading this book together

Magic Elizabeth by Norma Kassirer: Anwyn and Lily and I are reading this together. This was my favorite book as a young girl, so it is fun to share it with my own girls now.

My Shelf

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (the third Flavia de Luce mystery)

Who Really Cares: America’s Charity Divide: Who Gives, Who Doesn’t, and Why It Matters by Arthur C. Brooks

What books are on your reading shelves this summer?

Planning our summer days: The 2015 version of daily activities and chores

Summer vacation is here! As is typical for me, I have been pondering over our summer plans for the past month (maybe even longer). This year I put together a binder to keep track of our summer lists and paperwork and activity calendar.

Daily List: the things that are expected to be done each day. The list may be completed in any order, but the expectation is that the list must be done before any screen time.

  • Personal prayer and scripture study
  • Morning mile
  • Morning things: dressed, hair done, truth teeth, make bed, put away pajamas and any other clothes
  • Straighten your bedroom and put away anything that belongs to you from any room
  • Practice time: piano, typing, reading, or writing
  • Zone cleaning
  • Personal reading (20 minutes +): record book title, author, # of pages in journal
  • Math minute
  • Journal (optional): write about your day, or use a writing prompt

The Details

Morning Mile: Our elementary school has a great fitness program (students come early before school starts to run/walk laps. They earn little foot charms for every 5 miles, and they have a big awards ceremony at the end of the year). All three of my children really got into it this year, and I want to keep the momentum going. We are aiming to do a mile at least 5 days a week: run/walk, bike, or scooter. Exercise is always more fun with friends, so we invited others to join us and keep track of their miles. Once a week we will get together and run laps in our neighborhood, then pass out the foot charms. We are starting next week, and I hope it works out!

Reading: my kids don’t need any extra motivation to read books, so the 20 minute requirement is not difficult. But I really want them to keep a record of what they read for a few reasons: for handwriting practice, and to give me a list to refer back to when searching for new books to read.

Zone cleaning: my children are at an age (10, 7, and 5 yrs) where they can definitely contribute to the cleaning and maintenance of our home, and with a new baby I especially need their help! Currently each child is assigned a zone (living room, kitchen, bathrooms). I made up detailed “How to clean the…” lists for each room, so the children know exactly what is expected. My 10 year old is mostly able to work through the lists on her own. I work with my 7 and 5 year old to teach and give direction. Each child spends 20 minutes a day, and that is enough to keep things looking pretty decent.

Math minute: we don’t want our brains to turn to fluff, so a few minutes solving math problems keeps us smart!

Journal: I would love to instill a habit of journal writing in my children, so we will give this a try. I still need to put together a list of writing prompts.

So these are the things that are expected each day we are at home (except for Sunday). The children also have table jobs (setting plates, cups, or utensils) and after dinner jobs (clear table, sweep floor, empty recycling).

This list doesn’t have to take too much time, although some children will drag it out for hours. We are still making plans for the rest of our days. We will spend a lot of time at the pool, and we will play and craft and experiment and learn and help others!

You can see 2014 summer plans here.

The Basics of our Summer Daily Plan

The summer season is a good time: sleeping in, swimming at the pool, reading books, and lots of uninterrupted time with my children…wait a second…the thought of lots of uninterrupted time with my children every summer can sometimes be a cause for panic! So I’ve done some thinking and some online research and discussing with other moms, and this is the plan that I have come up with for our family this summer. Our goal is to keep our brains and bodies active and our house clean!

6:45    Mom wakes up

7:00  Morning Mile Run (for mom and sometimes Anwyn, and sometimes Lily and Zach on their bikes)

7:45  Family Prayer, Read 5 verses in the Book of Mormon, Breakfast

Morning Fit: If we don’t get out and play first thing in the morning, the Florida heat and humidity will keep us inside the rest of the day. So right after breakfast we head outdoors for some physical fitness. The children take turns picking the activity: bike ride, playground at a park, tennis, soccer/balls. Basically any activity that gets us outdoors and moving.

Morning Things: Daily personal care habits: get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair, make beds, put away clothes.

Morning Work: Since I have three children, I divided our house into three cleaning zones: kitchen, living room, and bathrooms. The children rotate weekly being in charge of one zone. I work  with the children to teach them how to clean their zone. For example, depending on the age of the child, the kitchen zone involves emptying and loading the dishwasher, clearing the breakfast table, sweeping the floor, etc. The living room needs to be picked up, and sometimes dusted and sometimes vacuumed.

Once the three morning things are done, the children have earned 30 minutes of  “learning screen time”: a show on PBS, learning apps on the iPad, or websites like starfall, pbskids, abcya.com, or brainpop. Sometimes they do a screen together, but we usually end up with 1 child on the computer, 1 on the iPad, and 1 watching the TV.

Practice Time: to keep our brains active, the children are encouraged to practice something for at least 15 minutes. My 4-year-old reviews his activities from his speech therapy. My 6-year-old does reading lessons or practices sight words (I am trying to come up with fun ways to practice these and have a list of ideas). My 9-year-old is currently practicing  typing at the keyboard. Once they have completed practice time (and done some other activities) they have earned 30 minutes of free choice screen time.

Reading between the lines here, and you can probably see that screen time is the best motivator I have to encourage my children to get things done!

The rest of the day is a little less structured. I try to plan an activity for each day: playdates with friends, library trips, swimming at our neighborhood pool, etc. We usually swim at least 3 days a week, sometimes more (in my effort to tire my children out so they will go to sleep at night!). And we read books-picture books, chapter books, or individual reading (the Ant Bug read the first four Harry Potter books in four days this week).

I am hoping to work in more creative time and science experiments and hands on activities, but in the first two weeks of summer we have stayed pretty busy so far!

What are you doing to survive the summer?