(because "plan" is a bad word in this house)
Summer officially starts for my son in just over a week, and he's already asking if he can go to summer school. Because of his special needs, he can be a bit difficult to deal with when he is home 24/7, so I'm really trying to get a decent schedule figured out for the summer so that I can keep him busy and help him to not regress before he starts his new school in the Fall.
I've decided to take a break from my shop and focus on the kids 100% this summer. I hope to do a combination of unschooling and Mater Amabilis. I've always been incredibly interested in Charlotte Mason and hope to one day be able to homeschool my three kids by following her methods. I love the idea of using living books instead of textbooks, spending time with nature, studying artists and composers, and doing hands-on activities like baking and sewing.
The kids absolutely love books and they love spending time outside, so those are the two things I'm going to base my plans on. I hope to use Read-Aloud Revival to get ideas for books to get from the library, plus just following the kids' leads on their interests. Right now they're interested in bunnies (we just got a pet bunny) and turtles (one of their favorite Dr Seuss stories is Yertle the Turtle), so I want to put a few books on hold for them about those two subjects. We also love audiobooks, which I have been slowly buying, as well as listening for free on Librivox and Storynory. I put them on during the day while the kids play, and they fall asleep to Dr Seuss every night after we've done our bedtime routine.
They're also interested in gardening, so in addition to working in the garden outside, I want to get books about it. At the moment, we are growing sweet peas, tomatoes, peppers, kale, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, lettuce, potatoes, peaches, blueberries, and apples. We also have a variety of herbs growing all over the yard. All Spring and Summer they just go outside and pick their own snacks. They also help harvest honey from our bees and gather eggs from the chickens (though, sadly, a racoon recently killed 10 of our 12 new three month old chickens), and they make tea from fresh-picked peppermint and lemongrass. I'm also going to get a deep, clear bucket so that we can grow carrots, which my 2 year old LOVES to eat. I think it'll be a lot of fun for them to watch them grow.
I also plan to utilize Netflix and Amazon on hot days, because they do tend to get brutal here in Virginia. There are groups on Facebook and also tons of blog posts about how to incorporate Netflix, Amazon, Youtube and more into your homeschooling days, and I absolutely love it. Just yesterday, my 5 year old asked if we could watch the Beethoven episode of Baby Einsteins (which is now on Amazon Prime, woot!), and as soon as the music started playing he yelled, "Yes!! Beethoven!" And my 3 year old can tell me all kinds of facts about animals I know nothing about, thanks to Go Diego Go. I know some people believe in being screen-free, and that is absolutely wonderful. But it isn't a good fit for my family right now, as a single mother that works from home with a special needs child, so I definitely love using screens for education.
They loves arts and crafts, so I'm hoping to get to the store in the next week or so to stock up on art supplies. I think they might be at a good age now where we can go on a nature walk in the morning to gather things, and then they can draw them. We live on about 1/3 acre but there are acres of woods backing our yard (which my siblings and I spent hours in while we were growing up), so there are plenty of places to study every morning. I want to set up a nature study bag for each of them so that they can collect their own findings and bring them back to the house to draw or trace in their own journals. I would also love to have them start studying famous artists since they already have an interest in it from watching Little Einsteins.
One of their favorite things right now is their backyard mud kitchen. It was inspired and started by a neighbor friend of mine. Another friend recently gave away one of those Little Tikes plastic outdoor cubes that have holes and ladders for climbing up and through, like this one here but minus the slide, and my mom set up an outdoor umbrella right next to it for additional shade. My neighbor got our kitchen started by bringing over pots and pans, water bottles, ladles, muffin tins, and more. Everything can be purchased from Goodwill for super cheap, and the kids just make mud and have a blast. They've made muffins, witch potions (I don't even know lol), soup, all kinds of "food" and it keeps them busy for hours. They pick flowers and clovers and grass to mix into their creations, and trot back and forth from the house or hose to keep filling their containers with water to make more mud or soup. I'm looking forward to going to Goodwill and finding more kitchen things for them. There are tons of ideas on Pinterest as well, if you're interested. Seriously worth the investment, and the mess ;)
They're also incredibly interested in God and religion right now, so in addition to my mom taking them to daily Mass with her as often as she can, we've been reading the Catholic Children's Treasure Box books every night before bed. They have been really enjoying them, and have started asking a lot more questions about God and our Faith. I think I'm finally in a place now where I can start praying a decade or more of the Rosary with them before bed as well, using crocheted roses to keep their interest. I purchased a set from Joann Collins on Facebook and plan to purchase two more so that each of the kids can have a set. She is wonderful to work with and lets you choose your own colors for your set. The roses are huge and absolutely gorgeous. If you aren't on Facebook, you can still click on the link and scroll down a bit to find her Etsy shop, where the roses are available for purchase.
I guess that about covers it. What are your plans for the summer? Do you homeschool through the summer as well, or do you take a break? Do you have any favorite resources, movies, books, cd's, etc?