Friday, 20 December 2013

School's out for summer - keeping skills sharp

School's Out for Summer

The end of the school year brings your children long and hopefully sunny, warm days in which to relax, play and have fun.  They have spent the academic year learning and growing in so many ways and now it is time for the summer holidays.  As Sir Cliff Richards sings "No more work for a week or two, fun and laughter on our summer holiday, no more worries for me and you."   Children need this time to play but how can you keep the skills they have acquired and maintain the progress they have made over throughout the year? 

There are many activities in which you can encourage your child to participate that are learning activities but are also practical and fun. There are activities that you can share with your child which is something that most parents and carers may not be able to do during term time.

Cooking is a great activity.  Reading and measuring skills are used to follow a recipe.  Children can also write their own shopping lists and help to shop for the ingredients, which supports their understanding of capacity and money further.  If your child is enterprising they could sell their cakes; creating their own publicity to market their product and use their maths skills to budget and to decide how much to sell their products for.  Some children will enjoy creating menus for the family meal or for their favourite celebrity or story character.  Collect samples of menu cards for them to read and evaluate.  Creating their own recipe book with illustrations or photos of recipes that they have used is another activity that encourages them to use their writing skills.  May-be you have lots of cuttings of recipes that they could copy out or stick in a notebook for you.  Generating a recipe book provides a very real reason to write and your child can consider how to present and organise their recipes.  They could even use a contents page or a glossary. 
Gardening is another activity that encourages children to use maths, reading and writing skills in very practical way.  Children can photograph, sketch and measure their plants. They may enjoy visiting a farmers market and as with the cooking they could budget, market and sell their products. 

Children can make their own garden ornaments and art.  They could try painting stones and rocks or could even write letters and words on stones that they can use to write messages or spell out words.  If you have space on a wall or fence or even a large piece of cardboard, why not paint it using blackboard paint and give your child some chalks to draw or write with.  On a sunny day your child may enjoy making their own sundial by placing a stick in the ground and measuring its shadow hourly.  Some children will enjoy looking for bugs, identifying, sketching or take a photograph of the bug to record in their notebooks.  Children could also use the outdoors to have scavenger hunts, searching for objects that for example begin with a particular sound, collecting numbers 1 -100 or 3d shapes, etc.

If your child has a particular interest or collection they could create their own museum to show case the items and objects.  They can create leaflets and labels to explain these items. Alternatively you could visit local museums or more famous museums, many of which are free, so that your child can develop their understanding and knowledge of their interest further.  Some children will enjoy planning the visit, researching bus or train timetables, budgeting and creating an agenda.

Holidays are a good chance to encourage your child to read by visiting your local library.  Many libraries will have themed activities in the holidays including story times.  Children can enjoy independently choosing a book to read.  Encourage them to evaluate their book either verbally or in writing, explaining their reasoning using PEE. (Point out your thoughts.  Explain your reason. Exemplify your thoughts).  Children may enjoy acting out the story, create a diorama or make a movie.

As well as reading some children will enjoy writing their own books.  Their writing may be fiction or non fiction, a story with chapters or a comic.  Whatever their chosen genre they will be using their literacy skills.  They can also create a front cover and blurb for their book as well as illustrating it with their own drawings, photographs or pictures cut out from magazines.  Again some children will enjoy dressing up, writing plays, singing songs and performing their stories either to a live audience or recording their play using video or photographs.  Many local councils organise outdoor performances for children throughout the summer months.  

Creating their own map is also a way of encouraging children to use literacy skills.  It can be either from their imagination or based on a story that they know, or using facts based on a specific topic.  Their maps can then be used as a plan for a story, play or board game.  Some children will also enjoy generating maps of places they have visited or know well.  Looking at maps and maps and atlases builds on a child's knowledge of their environment and the world, as well introducing them to the concept of scale and keys. 

Children could also keep a journal of their summer holiday, either keeping a record of the whole summer holiday or a specific vacation destination.  In their journals children can keep entry tickets, maps, photos, make notes about miles, time tables or itineraries as well as facts about specific destinations.  Encourage your child to consider how they present their journal using pockets, double mounting, stickers and different fonts.  Their journals can be shared with family and friends and kept as a memento of their summer holidays.  You may even want to consider creating your own journal or completing one in partnership with your child.

Enjoy participating in the activities with your child and keep the learning fun.  Learning is so much more involved than filling in activity sheets!  Children need to relax and play as part of the learning process.  

"Live in the sunshine. Swim in the sea. Drink the wild air."
Perhaps all of us need to follow Ralph Waldorf Emerson's words more often.

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