Summer Slide Busters Week One
As a parent and teacher, I have seen the effects of the “summer slide” or “brain drain” both at home and in school. Kids who aren’t given the chance to exercise their brains during the summer break will most likely lose a lot of knowledge they gained during the school year. Parents have the tough job of helping their children stay educated, entertained and out of trouble during the summer months.
Providing an enriching summer doesn’t have to cost parents a fortune in summer camps and classes or hours of their planning time. It doesn’t have to be a total drag for students, either. Summer is supposed to be fun, and with the right tools, that fun can go hand in hand with learning. The Gateway is a valuable resource for parents and teachers during these all-important summer months. We are excited to be posting daily “Summer Slide Buster” activities on our Facebook and Twitter pages along with the normal daily resource suggestions for our weekly topics. If you want to help your students stay engaged all summer (or if you are a parent looking for ways to provide fun home learning for your own kids), be sure to follow the Gateway on Facebook or Twitter and suggest that your students’ parents do the same.
The Summer Slide Buster resources we will post have been field-tested at home with boooooooored students who will help us report on their failures and successes in each weekly column. Remember to register and sign in to your free Gateway account so you can bookmark the resources you like and plan to use in the future. Our Summer Slide Buster activities will be selected to require little to no advanced preparation and minimal supplies we are often using the resources as guides, and not necessarily completing every activity in the resource. Our tentative schedule will be as follows:
- MUSIC MONDAY: Music and Math
- TASTY TUESDAY: Nutrition, Health and Cooking
- WACKY WEDNESDAY: Science
- THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: Reading and Writing
- FANTASTIC FRIDAY: Art and Summer Home Learning
You may want to pick and choose from our resource offerings to create occasional summer activities or to save activities to use next school year. If you are looking for enrichment ideas for the whole summer, we will have a suggestion for you each weekday!
This Monday, we will be featuring an elementary school resource called Melodies and Math: Creating Music with Non-traditional Instruments, a resource that combines music and math with an introduction to reading music. In our test of this resource, kids enjoyed playing songs on the website and composing their own songs on the suggested virtual touch-tone telephone. Their favorite part of the day was designing their own instruments from household items. Some searching through the recycle bin provided just about everything they needed to create their own little band. The most successful instruments were the straw oboes and the cardboard box and rubber band guitar. Parents can easily adapt this resource for different grade levels and select certain parts of the resource to share with the children. This is good example of discovery learning, where the kids can do most of the instrument building without much adult guidance. In our trial run, the students wrote down observations and notes in a notebook dedicated to their summer of fun learning. We are hoping to use the journal in most of the activities.
For our first Tasty Tuesday, we decided to delve into the new healthy eating guidelines from the USDA, called My Plate. We will be posting this resource this Tuesday. With My Plate, kids can see a visual representation of how much of each food group should be on their plates for each meal. Instead of a food pyramid, the USDA has created a symbol that is more like a pie chart of how much of each food group we should each day. I liked a lot of the activity ideas here, but I really wanted the kids to be able to have their own My Plate to use during meals to remind themselves of their healthy eating choices. I found a how-to online for making a decoupage plate, hit up the dollar store for some glass plates, and the kids made a collage of the different food groups (cut out of grocery store ads and backed with scraps of fabric) on their very own My Plates. I will post a picture of their final products on Tuesday.
Some parents and teachers are hesitant to teach science because they may be afraid they don’t understand the concepts well enough to explain them to kids. We will be posting science resources each Wednesday to help you confidently provide science activities. Before we get too into too many fun science activities, I thought it was important that students of all ages understand the scientific method and how scientists make discoveries. To do this, kids can try their hand at making up experiments themselves. I looked up the steps of the scientific method first to be sure I knew what they were and could explain them to kids. To introduce the concept of scientific inquiry, I gave the kids each a bag of M& M’s and let them create their own science experiments while following the scientific method. This is a fun activity for students of all ages, and even the kids who had done it before enjoyed experimenting with the candy. For more activities to use with students of all ages, check out this enrichment guide from Explorit. There are many more scientific method lessons on the Gateway, just choose from the list you get when searching for scientific method. Don’t forget to narrow your search on the right hand side of the page to find activities that are perfect for you.
On Thursday, we will feature reading and writing resources. This Thursday, we will post Movie in the Making. After kids read a book they enjoy, try looking through this resource to find activities to do together. There are different activities that lead up to creating a movie version of the book. Different parts of this resource would work well for students from elementary school and up. If you haven’t signed up for your library’s summer reading program, doing that would be a good idea on Thursday, too.
On Fridays, we will feature resources for art and for doing an ongoing summer research project. Doing a free-choice summer research project will appeal to students’ desire to learn about things they WANT to know about. To get them started with their ideas and research, Friday would be a good day to let the kids brainstorm ideas for their project topics. You may want to look at research project ideas on the Gateway to help them get started.
We hope to see you following us on the Gateway Facebook and Twitter pages starting this week. We welcome your comments and ideas!