Centers! First grade & preschool

These centers are for first grade and preschool. Here’s the breakdown week by week.

Week 1: PRESCHOOL–color-matching with pom-poms and plates, puzzles, and number matching with unifix cubes. GRADE 1–long-vowel sentence matching, addition matching with unifix cubes, and word building

Week 2: PRESCHOOL–shape-tracing with yarn, dot art (painting only using dots and the primary colors), and letter-matching with foam puzzles (not pictured). GRADE 1–puzzles, beginning sounds matching, and Roll the Dice (addition).

Week 3: PRESCHOOL–letter-matching garage (so fun for a boy who loves cars!), color-shape wheel (matching, and then coloring), number identification. GRADE 1–pattern animals, reading/writing words with and without a silent E, free art center.

Week 4: PRESCHOOL–cut and paste art center, rhyming sound matching, letter/word identification (He must use the letters in the envelope to create the word written on the outside of the envelope.) GRADE 1–Roll the Dice (addition), ending sound identification, rainbow writing sight words.

Week 5: PRESCHOOL–Pattern matching (with colored apples), “Broken Hearts” number matching (can you tell it’s close to Valentine’s Day?), ABC garage (not pictured this week). GRADE 1–Domino Addition (using the Roll the Dice page), word families (using hearts), Valentine’s Day paper (answer the question).

Week 6: PRESCHOOL–forming letters with play dough, cut and paste rhyming strip (not pictured), shape matching with paper bags. GRADE 1–sentence matching, fact families, and ABC order practice.

Week 7: PRESCHOOL–more rhyming strips, number matching, word building (without the writing). GRADE 1–counting by 5s & 10s, word building, sight word reading. *For Abby I did a “cowgirl” theme this week!  She had a cowgirl hat which she used for word building and then her sight words were written on cowgirl boots. Her “badge” said “deputy reader”! She loved it!

Week 8: PRESCHOOL–milk cap name (followed by working in his dry-erase maze book once he finished his name), rhyming sound matching, color and number matching. GRADE 1–sentence matching, Roll the Dice (subtraction, this time!), silent E work.

Week 9: PRESCHOOL--salt tray letters, identifying numbers (and counting) to 20.     GRADE 1–fact families with dice, “Wonder, Draw, & Tell” papers on weather (not pictured). Both kids had a craft center based on the book, “Mouse’s First Spring.” Originally, I wanted to do this book for the first week of spring, but the weather was not very spring-like so I waited to do it until April.

Week 10: EASTER WEEKEND! I wanted to use these egg centers for the week before so they could enjoy them the entire week leading up to Easter, but it didn’t work out that way. We don’t do centers EVERY Friday. Sometimes it gets pushed off because we’re busy or I’m really not feeling up to it (darn pregnancy nausea!). When that’s the case, they still have an abundance of independent activities to choose from during school week–they just tap into previous centers they’ve done. So fun egg centers got pushed off and we did them on Good Friday. They’ll continue to use these centers during the upcoming week after Easter.

PRESCHOOL–letter egg hunt (Noah had to find the letter eggs I hid all over the room and then match them up with the letters on the alphabet chart), make a turtle (working on gluing skills), play dough cookie cutters (motor skills).  GRADE 1–compound words, rhyming words, word families (all egg centers).


Week 11: PRESCHOOL–ABC Truck Match-Up! (Match the letters on the truck “tires”.), Rhyming Game, Practice Gluing. GRADE 1–Place Value Game (create random numbers from number grid using unified cubes to show tens and ones), SPACE-themed worksheets on word families, PLANET word families (ew, ow, -ead).


Week 12: PRESCHOOL–Pig in a Puddle (center on the letter “P” including sound matching, salt tray practice, and tracing), Clothespin Match (numbers), Search for Bugs (hunt, match, color). GRADE 1Wonder, Draw, & Tell worksheets on bugs, Roll the Dice (free choice–addition, subtraction, or fact families), digraph “Bird Watch” match-up. **I like doing some themed centers, like last week Abby had some space themed work, and this week both Abby and Noah had to search for some cards around the room. Noah had to look for matching bug cards and Abby had to look for the cards that matched her bird digraphs. She also had some bug-themed worksheets. 


Dr. Seuss & Seussville!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss


OF COURSE while doing first grade author studies this year we would include Dr. Seuss! How could we not?! And when I planned out our year, I timed this study to end on his birthday so we could celebrate! The trouble, however, was that I didn’t write out each author study before we started the school year. I just didn’t have time! So I planned out the first one on Eric Carle, and most of the second one on Laura Numeroff, and some of the third one on Jan Brett. But the rest, I’m writing as we go. And since Jan Brett took us much longer than anticipated to get through, it only left us with a couple weeks to study Dr. Seuss. It just doesn’t seem like enough time to devote to such a popular and gifted author; the “father” of reading! But in a way, it was necessary to trim it down so that Abby wouldn’t get bored from taking too long on two authors in a row. (And it gave me a little break from writing units!)

So I didn’t do a formal “study” and I didn’t make her keep a journal. Dr. Seuss wanted reading to be FUN for kids. So I felt like I would be doing him a disservice if I bogged Abby down with extra work and made her dislike reading his books. How fitting that we took a “break” from our regular author study work and just had fun with probably the most fun children’s author of all time!

So for two weeks, here’s what we did:


We first scored our local library for Dr. Seuss picture books. Then I ordered the classics that weren’t in stock from the database (love that system!). The first week we spent time just getting to know his books and having fun reading the rhymes. We read Horton Hatches an Egg and Horton Hears a Who (which they instantly connected to the their favorite Christmas movie, “The Grinch”). We also read The Lorax and then watched the movie OnDemand right afterward. They loved making connections between the book and movie and did it all on their own! (Talk about fun, informal LEARNING.) I also introduced them to his books “written as Theo LeSieg” such as I Wish that I had Duck Feet and I’m NOT Going to Get Up Today. We read many others, too!

IMG_20180302_110133039The second week was National Read Across America Week and I was a little more intentional about what we read. We started with the classic, The Cat in the Hat. Then I had Abby write (in her regular writing journal for school) about what she would do on a rainy day. Abby read Hop on Pop to us and I had Noah do other rhyming activities to go along with the book. We had our own “Wacky Wednesday” and they LOVED that book! We visited my grandparents so Abby could read to them and I bought them their own Dr. Seuss book: You’re Only Old Once, A Book for Obsolete Children. That book is so funny and the perfect gift for an “aging” couple or person in your life! (Children don’t get it so although it looks like a children’s book, it sort of isn’t. haha) My grandparents loved it! On Friday, (Dr. Seuss’ actual birthday) I made eggs andIMG_20180301_134655013 ham for breakfast and gave each child a “table setting” coloring page to work on at the breakfast table while I read Green Eggs and Ham. (Abby read it on her own later. The thing about Dr. Seuss books is that even though they’re pretty easy to read, mostly… they’re long. That is a turn-off for Abby because she doesn’t like sitting still for long periods of time to read. But it was nice to see her pick up some of his books and read them herself anyway!) We also made celebratory cupcakes and the kids played on the Seussville website in the afternoon.

Our “culminating activity” (in lieu of writing a book in Seuss-style) was a family trip to the Springfield Museums on Saturday for their Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash! We toured the Seuss museum, and the science, art, and history museums where we met the Cat in the Hat and the Grinch!

This was such a fun and relaxing unit. I love when I see learning in action without all the effort. So fun!! 😉

“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of the telescope.” ~ Dr. Seuss


Author Study: Jan Brett

Finally! Guys. let me tell you, it took a LONG time to get through this last author study! It was meant for the month of January but dragged well into February. This was not because the unit itself is super long, or because we didn’t enjoy it; it was simply the challenge of homeschooling with a baby in the house. There were LOTS of stops and starts while I tended to the fussing and crying and milk demands, and we didn’t even get to all the activities I had planned (because sometimes you just have to move on). But we did it! And we enjoyed it!

One of the challenges I’m facing as I write these author studies is how to choose which books to focus on–there are just so many! Jan Brett has written countless books and you could do so much with each one of them. There are plenty of science, history, and art lessons in addition to language ones that can be learned through her books. (I almost had us doing a unit within the unit on the rainforest!) I’m telling you, dialing back had to happen though it wasn’t easy. My main focus has been to come at these through a literary perspective, and if other subjects get touched on, then that’s bonus. Jan Brett is known for her amazing watercolor illustrations that beautifully capture many different settings from around the world. She’s also famous for her illustration “borders” which tell a story within a story. These are things I chose to focus on for this study.

26232556_10160215871695221_5151877635536231607_oWe started with one of her most popular books, The Mitten. We also read The Hat, and The Umbrella, which follow a similar theme. Our focus was sequencing and making predictions (using the borders to help us). I can’t take credit for the fun materials we used on day 1 when we read The Mitten. Oh, the internet is a wonderful place! I purchased a unit on and used those materials to make animal puppets for The Mitten. Jan Brett’s own website,, also offers several printouts and activities to accompany her books which I found helpful.

IMG_2027Then we moved on to fairytales! Jan Brett has rewritten a few fairytales and so I thought it would be a good opportunity to do a mini-unit on these familiar stories. We discussed the elements of a fairytale (Fairytale Worksheet) and used a check-list for each one we read to see if it met the “requirements” to be a true fairytale. Then we compared and contrasted Jan Brett’s version with the original. (Compare and Contrast) This was fun and the kids really got into looking at the different versions of the same story.

My last focus was on the setting of her different tales. Jan Brett has stories that take place in Africa, China, Ukraine, the rainforest… all over! Though we didn’t get to the written part of this unit, we had fun discussing the different places and where we’d like to go if we could. Even though we didn’t get a chance to do these activities fully (Dr. Seuss was calling our names!), the materials for this part of the unit are still included. Take a trip with Jan Brett and study a setting!

This is the perfect unit to do in the winter, since that’s the setting for a lot of these books. I hope you enjoy these activities! You can download the lesson plans, journal, and activity pages all free!

Jan Brett Author Study  

JB Author Study Journal Pages

JB Setting Study

Author Study: Laura Numeroff

24173502_10160028596480221_1856968276018453742_oWe just completed our second author study of the school year; Laura Numeroff! It was so fun! In October, we studied Eric Carle and you can read about that unit and download the materials from it on the linked post above. I love that it started a “routine” in Abby’s head so now she’s always asking, “What author are we studying next?” (Spoiler alert: it’s Jan Brett in January.) She saw me check out about a dozen of her books from the library to finish writing the unit and already can’t wait to get started!

Abby also recently got her own library card. I thought children had to wait until they were 6, but apparently it’s only 5 at our library. A whole year wasted! 😉 They also have self check-out now, so she’s loving this! I feel like her newfound independence at the library goes hand-in-hand with the confidence she’s building in speaking about books and authors. She always talks about what we’re learning in school with such authority so it’s really fun to listen to her talk about familiar books and authors with other people.

IMG_20171116_085116We started the study with probably one of L.N.’s most famous books, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. GREAT excuse to make cookies, by the way! We then took a small poll of favorite cookies from our friends and family. Abby gave them only two choices: chocolate chip or sugar. Then she graphed her results. Chocolate chip won! We’re making a lot of Christmas cookies this year because that’s pretty much all I want to do–hang around the house in my yoga pants, watch Christmas movies, and bake. (Having a newborn kind of does that to you!) So we plan to take an even BIGGER poll soon and make a huge graph with those results! It isn’t exactly a part of the unit, but we’re adding it on because it seems like an appropriate time of year for it.

With each of our author studies, Abby has an accompanying journal where she writes and draws about each book we read. For this study, I created a separate section specifically for the circle stories where Abby would record the first full sentence of each book and draw a picture of her favorite scene. Then she had to do a story graph for each one. Every circle story has an animal character, a setting (like any story), a “thing” that starts and ends the story, and a big mess (or more than one) somewhere in the book. Abby determined and recorded all those elements for every circle story we read. I want her to be learning how stories are formed and the concept of outlining a work before writing it–this applies to more than just writing, but is an excellent tool for her to have in her “writer’s toolbox” as she moves forward in school. For some circle stories, I created an additional activity. If You Give a Moose a Muffin had a reality vs. fantasy chart, If You Give a Cat a Cupcake included a math game of sprinkles on cupcakes. Then there’s a game called “Spin a Word” which is fun to play and I added to the end of the circle story portion of the unit.

Then we moved on because L.N. has more than just circle stories. We read What Mommies Do Best and What Daddies Do Best and then talked about our family and she drew a picture of her family on large paper. We read Chimps Don’t Wear Glasses and Dogs Don’t Wear Sneakers and then she fantasized her own silly sentence of what an animal doesn’t do and wrote it down with a picture to go with it. (Hers was, “Hippos don’t dance.” and she drew a hippo in a tutu.)

Each author study also includes an author review page where the student can write what they learn about the author. Laura Numeroff made this easy for us with her book, If You Give an Author a Pencil. It was fun to read, had lots of photographs, and we learned a lot!

For the culminating project, Abby wrote her own circle story, which we outlined first with a story graph and then I recorded her ideas in an actual circle. As with her Eric Carle book that she wrote, I wrote the words of the story which she dictated to me, and then she copied my writing onto her book. I want her illustrations to be in the style of the illustrators, too, so for her Eric Carle book she used tissue paper. Felicia Bond illustrates Laura Numeroff’s circle stories and we researched to find that she uses watercolor for her illustrations, so that’s what Abby did as well. By the way, Staples binds these books spirally for super cheap, so it’s not hard to give your child a “professional” looking book of their very own! I have a laminating machine so I did that at home before bringing the pages into Staples. These are going to be great for us to look back on when Abby is older!

IMG_20171207_102046I’m including the lessons here for you to download, along with the student sheets we used. There is only one copy of each sheet needed here, so if you want to use a story graph or any other journal page more than once, keep in mind you’ll have to print the number of pages you desire. If you want to print the “Spin a Word” game, you should also laminate it and then insert a brad in each wheel and hook a paper clip to them as the spinners. I also laminated my word list so I can use it repeatedly as a “center” and she can use a dry erase marker to write down her words. I hope you find this author study as fun (and delicious!) as we did!

Laura Numeroff Author Study

LN Author Study Journal Pages

LN Cookie Graph

LN student sheets

Spin a Word game

Spin a Word Word List


Eric Carle: An Author Study for First Grade

IMG_20171017_104441735When I was a teacher in the public school system, my last year teaching was CRAZY! I was transferred mid-year from a 4th grade SEI (Sheltered English Immersion) classroom to a 1st grade one because they needed another licensed ESL teacher at that level. It was a challenge, to say the least. I was a little overwhelmed coming back from winter break to a whole new classroom, set of kids, and grade level! I knew the kids would be overwhelmed, too. I wanted to start our time together with something fun, light, yet meaningful. So I wrote an author study on Eric Carle because his books are just that: fun and light! His pictures are bright and colorful and happy and I knew his books would inspire some fun lessons and art projects. His works are what began our new relationship; the first graders and me. We loved it. So began a small series of author studies in our classroom. And I found that I loved teaching 1st grade.

Now that my oldest daughter is in first grade with me teaching her at home, I have revamped my author studies, added more detail, and composed them in a neat package so that more people than just myself can understand the lessons. (You don’t want to look at my old lesson plan books, trust me!) I am so excited for this year with her–I’ve planned a different author for each month, more than what I was able to do in school, and it’s going to be great!

IMG_20171019_150836The thing I love about doing an author study in the 1st grade is that this is the year children typically start being able to read more independently. It’s a pivotal year in the young reader’s journey. What better way to nurture a love of reading than to introduce a child to a multitude of books and authors and really talk about things like writing style, voice, illustrations, and more? I want to give my child something else to talk about when she reads a book other than just whether she liked “it” or not. As she learns to read, I want her to have the confidence to pick books that will interest her, to be able to talk about the meaning in stories, and even the desire to pick out a book simply because the illustration appeal to her. So along with our other core curriculum, we’re going to spend this year studying different authors, their lives, their writing styles, and their illustrations. We are going to practice writing our own stories in the style of different authors and we’re going to dabble in art the way these authors and illustrators do. We are going to talk about books until we’re blue in the face! And we’re going to grow our love of reading to a whole new level.

We started in the month of October with Eric Carle. I just had our fourth baby so I actually pushed our core curriculum aside for the month so I wouldn’t be too overwhelmed. We focused solely on our author study and added in a little math and reading practice here and there. We read many, many more Eric Carle books than what is listed in the study. I borrowed books from our local library and even purchased a few new ones for our collection. I have a feeling that by the time I come back around to this study with any of my other children, I’ll be adding more books and lessons to it!

IMG_20171017_110050719I’m including the author study, the journal pages, and the “extras” needed to complete this study as downloadable pdfs to this post. If you’d like to do it yourself, feel free! Since this was our first study of the year, I took a gentle approach and allowed it to just be what it was. When I was writing the study, I imagined such deep and insightful answers from Abby to the questions I was posing. I didn’t quite get those, haha! But that’s okay. It’s only the beginning of the year and this is our first one. I am hopeful that by the end of the year and after we’ve done several of these, she will be able to think about stories and books on a deeper level than she does now. I will say that we had a lot of fun! My kids LOVE his books and the pictures I’m sharing of them sitting on the floor “reading” his books are not at all fake or staged. They frequently just emptied our book basket unprovoked and dove into his world–The Wonderful World of Eric Carle. My heart is full when I look at the photos. If you decide to do something similar in your homeschool journey (or your classroom journey) I hope it does the same for you! Enjoy!


Eric Carle Author Study

Author Study Journal Pages

Pancakes Pancakes picture cards

Eric Carle stip book and ten frames templates

Eric Carle time journal and final booklet

*Parental warning: I picked up the book “Draw me a Star” from the Eric Carle museum when we went to culminate our study. I didn’t look at the pictures before bringing it home and reading it to the kids that night. There is a picture of a naked man and woman (in Eric Carle style) a few pages in. I was so surprised! Because his artwork isn’t very detailed by nature, it wasn’t TOO bad, but I wish I had known. Serves me right for not flipping through, first. I had seem some excerpts from the book on display in the museum which is why I purchased it. Caught my kids opening it up just to laugh at the picture a few times since reading it to them. Oops! 🙂


Starting Up the Homeschool Year

Starting up the school year as a homeschool mom can be exciting and stressful, just like for any other teacher. This year for me, it’s definitely been an even mix of both! Generally, I find the stress to be in the choosing of curricula and setting up the “plan” for the day-to-day scheduling. But once that’s settled, excitement sets in and I can’t wait to start! But sometimes, plans don’t go according to, ahem, “plan.” Here are some things I have to keep in mind when starting the school year, and they might be helpful to you, too!

  • Your schooling doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s! (Nor should it!) It’s so easy to play the compare game on social media these days and sometimes we get discouraged if our school room (or kitchen table) doesn’t look as nice as those in other people’s pictures, or our kids don’t seem as excited to start as someone else’s. But not only is it unhealthy to constantly compare ourselves to other people, it’s sinful. If you are heeding God’s call on your family to homeschool, your only focus needs to be on how HE wants YOU to raise and educate YOUR kids. I have to remind myself of this almost daily. Getting ideas from others is one thing, but thinking we need to do everything just like someone else is different.
I’m not the best with doing science experiments. I usually like to wait until Daddy is home and then we do a whole bunch at once! Here we are experimenting with water. It was actually fun! (For me, I mean, I knew it would be for them already.) 😉
  • Let go of the “ideal.” Here’s my confession: today was the first day I did school with BOTH my 1st grader and preschooler. (We started 1st grade last week.) And the day itself was THE WORST. The school portion of the day wasn’t bad, but other factors led to the day being a “write-off.” The 20-month old has still taken 2 naps a day up until this point and picked today of all days to refuse the morning nap. I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when. Time to hash out a plan to keep her entertained during school (which I have plenty of resources for and I’ll be sharing in another post), I just wasn’t prepared for this today. During the off-school hours, kids were generally off the wall, a little disobedient, I was 36-week-pregnant-with-number-four-all-time-exhausted, I broke a dish filled with dip while pulling something out of the fridge, and even quiet time didn’t go smoothly. So the epic “first day of school” certainly wasn’t ideal, but when that happens, you absolutely cannot let it get you down! Life is messy. (But, you’d never know it if I just posted the pictures from our school time and never mentioned anything about the rest of the day. So, see, that’s another reason not to compare–you’re probably not even comparing your life to the true account of another’s!)
For Noah’s preschool year, we’re doing 1-week “units” that I’m pulling together from a bunch of different sources. Our first unit is on colors. He already knows them, but I like to start with something that’s reinforcing and not brand new. And we got to have this yummy snack of “rainbow” fruit with homemade whipped cream! We mixed our primary colors to make the secondary ones. It was fun AND delicious!
  • Curriculum is not “one size fits all.” If you have found an all-inclusive curriculum that meets all the needs of your family and you LOVE it, yay you!!! Honestly, our curriculum comes pretty close! Next year we’ll have to start supplementing in a few subjects but My Father’s World gives great suggestions for all supplements. (Click on the link to check our curriculum out!) This is our 3rd year using this curriculum and we absolutely love it! I realize not everyone has that experience, and that’s okay, too! And even if you’ve settled on a great curriculum, you don’t have to use it as is. I have to be flexible with our scheduling since I work part-time so I don’t always follow the curriculum’s outline exactly. Plus, my experience as a public school teacher gave me great supplemental ideas that I use all the time! I consider myself lucky that my oldest is mature and “advanced” enough that I could do kindergarten with her at age 4, no problem, and she loved it! That meant that I started first grade with her last year when she was 5, and could spread it over 2 years. So this year is technically our second year of 1st grade, but age-wise, she’s “officially” first grade! Taking first grade at a slower pace has meant being able to supplement with more fun activities, field trips, and make time for the toddler and baby on the way!
We ALL got into our colorful snack! So yummy!
  • Don’t be afraid to try something different! Homeschool parents can feel a lot of pressure to do things perfectly because the world’s eyes are on us for not doing things “conventionally” or not “leaving our child’s education to the ‘experts’.” This kind of pressure sometimes leads me to overthink my choices for fear of messing up and looking like I failed my kids. But I can tell you, even public school teachers have plans that fail! Lessons, and even whole units, don’t always go according to plan, so we have to adjust. Don’t be afraid to look into new curricula, supplemental materials, or to just reach out to other homeschool moms for support and ideas. I thought I was “set” this year for our curriculum, but I now find myself researching another curriculum to supplement what we’re already doing. It never ends! But I’m learning to follow my instincts and try new things when necessary.



Keeping some structure to your summer (and your sanity intact!)

Summer vacation is here!!! Well for this homeschool crew, anyway. To the rest of you who might have a couple weeks to go–hang in there! Or maybe I should say, savor the last couple weeks that your kids aren’t “BOOORRRREEEEDDDDD!!!” 😉

No joke, I didn’t have the “summer system” I’m about to describe ready for our first week of summer vacation, and boy, oh boy, do I wish I had! While you’re in the midst of the craziness of a school schedule, starting each day in a relaxed mode and enjoying some morning cartoons on “Boomerang” (Hello, Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry–you bring back so many memories!) may sound like paradise, but let me tell you–after just 2 days of so-called “relaxation”, I was pulling my hair out. No schedule or structure=no sanity around here. And starting each day off with “screen time” is a recipe for disaster (or at least a pastime best kept for Saturday mornings only). The bickering, the whining, the boredom… I just couldn’t take it. It didn’t help that the weather hasn’t been great (today, Thursday, is the first sunny and warm day all week). Time to whip our summer into shape and help me remember that I do actually love my children. 😉

I used to be a public school teacher and now as a homeschool mom, I was very surprised that on our last day of school, I was just as elated to be done as I used to be on the last day of public school. Homeschooling, when done well, is no joke. It’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of heart work, because you’re teaching your own children. It’s exhausting. But the reward is great. And summer vacation often can’t come soon enough! But summer is more than just hanging out, going to the playground, park, or beach. While summer vacation is a great time to enjoy time with our families and children (especially if your kids go to public or private school) it is also a crucial time to continue training them. During the school year, we’re so focused on academics and distracted by our busy extra curricular schedules, that it’s hard to establish a good chore routine or spend the time it takes to work on our character building. These things are so important and take dedication, especially at the start, so summer is a great time to work on them.

We are using We Choose Virtues, a Christian character-training guide (not just for homeschool families!) for our character work. You can read more about how we’re implementing that in my last post. But it’s also important to get the kids into the habit of helping out around the house and doing chores. It can be so easy, especially when busy, to just do it yourself–let’s face it, the cleaning goes faster and comes out better that way–but it’s important to start teaching our kids the value of taking care of themselves and our home early. This takes a lot of work from the parent at first, which is why it can be hard to dive into it during the school year. And let’s not forget the importance of keeping up with our academic skills during the summer so we don’t lose our reading knowledge or math facts while on break. And if at all possible, I would like to avoid hearing “I’m BORED” on a regular basis this summer. (Okay, maybe it’s not possible, but I have hope.)

So I set out creating activity bins and charts. Oh, the internet can be such a useful resource for ideas! 😉 We have an outdoor bin of “boredom buster” that’s filled with some traditional outdoor toys and some not-so-traditional outdoor toys. (Letting kids play with play dough outside gives them a thrill and helps gets rid of the indoor mess!) Our outdoor bin is filled with bug nets, Play-Doh, multiple kinds of chalk, bean bags, chalk paint, jump ropes, paddle balls, tether balls, and bubbles–all of which can be purchased at the dollar store and are easy and cheap to replenish as the summer goes on.

Then we have our indoor activity bins–one for Abby and one for Noah. These focus a little more on academics, but are still unstructured. Abby (going into first grade) has a folder with math worksheets and some journal-prompting sheets, dry-erase math games (from her centers this past year), flash cards for sight words, flash cards for math facts,  learning sign language cards, leveled readers, dry-erase activity cards (from Usborne books–also great for long car rides!), a dry-erase board and marker, and silly putty. Noah’s activity bin also has silly putty, a dry-erase board and marker, dry-erase activity cards, his salt tray for forming letters, alphabet and number cards, and Ninja turtle memory game cards.

Based on some helpful ideas from the internet, I set up a summer schedule which has the kids doing their chores, playing outside, practicing their memory verse (from We Choose Virtues), choosing an activity from their bin, and many other things, daily. Check it out! You can download it and adjust it to fit your family’s needs, too! I’ll post the link to our chore chart, as well, so you can see what kinds of chores we’ve included. Our kids are 5 and 4, so we have nothing major, and these aren’t chores we will pay them an allowance to do. We also don’t count basic things like making the bed as “chores”–those are just part of taking care of ourselves and our things. Our chores are helping with the kitchen and dishes, etc, and we do them because we’re a part of the family.

2017 Summer Schedule

2017 Chore Chart

I hope these ideas help you bust through summer boredom or at least establish a working family routine this summer if you’re in need of one! Happy vacation!