Typically our summers are full of fun, travel, and time spent with others. We thoroughly enjoy driving to historical locations and exploring all the old landmarks there. We spend a lot of time traveling to see family in various states, often spending a long weekend with them seeing the local sights. We also really enjoy hosting cookouts for our friends and family as well, sharing food and laughter. This summer seems to be shaping up into a very different kind of summer though.
We are still under social restrictions.
We still are being told to stay six feet apart from others.
We are told to keep gatherings to a minimum and to a
small group of people.
This is not how I pictured this summer going.
Thankfully, I am not easily discouraged. In fact, when I think about it, there are many things we can still do. I personally love anything and everything that can be done while costing little to nothing. When my kids were younger, our favorite thing to do was to playground hop. Every week we would go to a different playground. After about 6 weeks, we would start all over at the first playground and it was like a new place to the kids. Keeping with the no cost but fun times criteria, I have come up with a list of my go-to activities to share for the upcoming summer.
The first go-to activity in my family when we want something to do is hitting a hiking trail. Now, these trails do not need to be long trails. I have seen some beautiful but short nature trails around some local parks. If you need to find a short quarter-mile walk track, there are plenty of opportunities in town and right on the outskirts. If you are up for more of a challenge, start heading toward Westminster or Table Rock and you will find a plethora of trails, ranging from easy to a more challenging trail that can be up to 5 miles one way. Just remember to always check the weather first, pack water, and tell someone where you are going.
Living Science Exploration
In connection to hiking, another go-to activity is living science exploration. Now living science to me is the scientific exploration and observation of anything living. Bugs, plants, reptiles, birds, or animals all fall into that category. This summer we have found ourselves raising tadpoles in a tank. As this was never something that was done in any of my classrooms as a child, I am just as excited and fascinated by the weekly changes in the tadpoles as my kids are. If reptiles are not your thing, maybe you could focus on a bird study or even plant exploration. As a family, you could learn the various birds in your area and the calls they make or learn to identify trees by the shape of their leaves.
Similarly, to my previously mentioned playground rotation, our trips to the library can be done on a rotation and are always fun trips. We enjoy going and exploring all the libraries in our area, sometimes even outside the area and rotating which library we visit every week or so. While many might argue that all libraries are the same, we would disagree. There are libraries that have designated teen reading and school work areas, there are libraries that have opportunities to create and display handy crafts, and there are libraries that tend to do more little kid activities than adult ones. Add to that we live for books and library trips are a big win for us.
Interest Focused Unit Studies
In connection to the library trips, interest lead units are beyond fun. This concept is used often when my kids become curious about something. My kiddos will often have a random question pop into their head while doing other activities and they will of course come to me. They often are asking to know everything, but my kids are older now and I have used their curiosities to help teach them how to do research. We have explored concepts such as weather, robotics, horses, volcanoes, Pompei, and even various fighting styles in history. We will go to the library or the 2nd hand book store and find non-fiction as well as fiction books based on the concept we are exploring and we will share with each other what it is we have learned. Typically we end up creating something in connection to our focus and we all have a great time doing it together.
Last, but not least, are the many outdoor games that can be enjoyed in your own backyard. There of course are the typical games such as tag, water balloon fights, and jump rope, but my family loves to create new outdoor games to play together. Often, if we have just finished a really good book or even tv series, the new game takes on the theme that was in it. We have played Millenium Falcon jump tag, ninja warrior races, and even a Last Kids on Earth obstacle course. We have fun coming up with various rules to the games that make it more challenging but more similar to what inspired the new game. My favorite part of this option is we often end up in a pile, laughing and then my kids are worn out and calm the rest of the day.
While this summer is starting out very odd and different from summers prior, I am still looking forward to it. I am not going to allow a difficult situation to put a damper on the fun that my family and I can have. There are still many things that we can do and many adventures we can go on. I for one am going to enjoy my summer and I cannot wait to hear what other adventures people go on this year as well.
Enjoy the journey this summer.
Greetings! My name is Joy and I am currently a stay at home mom who is homeschooling her three kids in South Carolina. I love learning and I love sharing the love of learning with others so getting to home school my kids and watch the “ah-ha” moments when they understand something is unbelievably rewarding. I have been homeschooling since my twins were preschool age so we are going on 9 years now. I am also a military spouse, so we have the added joy of being a military family with some of the complications that come with it. As a family, we stay busy with our scouting groups, American Heritage Girls and TrailLife, and we do many camping and hiking trips with them. When I have downtime, I am typically reading books I have sitting around the house, on YouTube/websites getting more information on different home school programs, or working on plans for homeschool. I look forward to being able to share our experiences with everyone and help encourage all homeschooling families.