I love summer break. One of the reasons teaching appeals to me is summer break. My calendar runs June - May in my recently created bullet journal. I. Love. Summer. It is a time to take a break from school and learn just for the fun of it. Did you catch that? Not take a break from learning, just a time to take a break from formal learning. Summer is the perfect time to learn, grow, and explore in ways that just aren't possible during the school year.
For the past several summers Logan and I have had a themed summer bucket list and a hashtag to go with it. We've had The Summer of Adventure, The Summer of Go and Grow, The Summer of Exploring, and The Summer of Progress. As you can see, I put some big things like trips on the list, but I also plan little things, like make paper airplanes or play Old Maid. I started it because I don't like the days passing and feeling as though we've accomplished nothing. We never complete everything on the list but we have fun trying.
Earlier I wrote about the importance of experiencing things. The more children are exposed to the more they will be able to learn in a classroom. Standing in the Wright's Bicycle Shop is way different from seeing it in a textbook. At their childhood home actors put a on a show called "Coming home from Kitty Hawk" which is quite inspiring. I usually cry, but I'm weird like that. Don't believe me? Well, go to Greenfield Village and check it out for yourself. The Wright brothers' father strongly believed in the power of play and encouraged his children's curiosity by giving them educational toys, including a propeller toy and you see where that lead. No, building paper airplanes isn't usually encouraged in the classroom, but this is summer. Look up different designs then build a airplane landing strip to see which fly the best. You don't have to make it super educational by explaining the science behind the aerodynamics, but when your child studies physics and learns about lift, the lessons they learned through play will help the ideas click faster.
One of the saddest things I saw as a teacher was a lack of REAL outdoor experiences among my students. If you know me, you know I'm far from outdoorsy, but I do enjoy walking and taking easy hikes. If your child has done some hiking, they can relate to the mountain stories they will be reading about in literature. Students can tell all about building a shelter in a video game, but send them out to try to build one with whatever they can find in the woods. Suddenly Hatchet by Gary Paulsen gets much more intriguing. Once, on a walk on the I&M canal trail we saw a tree that had been chewed down by a beaver. That experience was priceless and way more valuable than only having read that beavers chew down trees. The time we've spent exploring the Morton Arboretum or the Stage Nature Center has helped Logan understand forest growth and decomposition in a way that is more comprehensive than he could gather from a book. Trust me, I'm not saying that ONLY experience is necessary, but that it lays a strong foundation for academic learning.
This summer we have big plans. We are calling it "The Great Summer of Adventure" and using #greatsummerofadventure2018 to track our activities. I would be honored if you would join in our adventures. Come over and swim, visit a museum with us, join us on a walk at the nature center, but let's get out there! If you can't be with us in person, join in by making and displaying your own Great Summer of Adventure bucket list and hashtaging along with us. I'm waiting to reveal our list until Monday, the official first day of summer break for Logan, but if you would like a copy of my "Great Summer of Adventure" bucket list poster please contact me. I can't wait for the fun to begin!
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."