Planning for Summer Break with Kids

As I am writing this the kids are on their way home from a half day at school which means summer vacation has officially begun! Even though this won’t be posted for a few days I’m already feeling the pressure haha.

The summer last year was completely new for our family. Homeslice and Monster were no longer in daycare meaning that they were home all day, every day, all summer. My father and myself changed jobs so I was now working from home and he was doing a variety of handy work for local farms as well as working night shift on occasion.

I really thought that the summer was going to go smoothly, I really thought that I could take it a day at a time, I really thought it would be rainbows and butterflies. I was really wrong. The kids didn’t seem to know what to do with themselves without the set-in-stone schedule provided by their daycare. They were completed bored any time there was more than 10 minutes of down time. I hadn’t planned anything ahead of time and it left a lot of things being rushed and half-done on my end. I was completely stressed which was certainly more my fault than the kids fault but we all suffered because of the lack of planning.

I decided that this summer needed to be different. I decided that I needed to have a better system set in place so that I don’t go crazy…really so that we all don’t go crazy.

I started out by sitting down and coming up with the main things that each kid is interested in and the main things that they need to work on. Luckily for me, they all share basically the same interests and have the same areas that need a little extra work; just on various levels. All three of them are incredibly interested in hands-on activities so I have made sure to come up with a wide variety of activities that will be hands-on and educational.

The areas I have focused most on are their chore charts, education, and a simple plan of themed weeks.

Before I get into these areas I also wanted to share with you another thing that I’ve worked on. Our little’s really enjoy their cartoons (especially Homeslice..if the TV is on he’s glued to it) but sometimes they get Cartoon-Tunnel-Vision in the mornings and instead of finishing their morning chores they zoom out to the tv. So to combat this habit we created a simple list of screen time rules.

Camp Welgo Screen Time Rules

Before they can plop (quite literally) in front of the tv they must have finished each item on the list. I keep this posted on the fridge so all I have to say is “Did you do everything on your screen time rules list?” rather than running through a string of the same questions. This is also a great way to teach them responsibility while making our mornings go much, much smoother. I had this personalized to say Camp Welgo which wasn’t an additional cost. If you’d like to get one of these for your family it can be found here.

Chore Charts

So, for starters each child has their own chore chart with their own list of chores. However, in anticipation of the start of summer I made some changes to them allowing the kids to have a little more responsibility.
These are the chore charts that we use. I printed them and then put them in a simple picture frame from the dollar store. This allows the kids to use a dry-erase marker to mark off each chore as they do it and in this way I am able to set up a rewards system for them. They obtain a certain number of points each time a chore is completed, then at the end of the week I add up the points and they earn the rewards that coincide with the number of points earned.

I decided to get a little more creative with the chore chart/rewards system process for this summer. This is an example of the rewards I have come up with for this summer. There’s no guarantee that they will stick but I’m pretty proud haha

65-74 Points: Cartoons in the morning
75-79 Points: Prize out of the prize box
80-84 Points: Tablet or video games
85-90 Points: Pick an individual prize
91-95  Points: HOLY COW! Awesome job! You get a SURPRISE! If all 3 of you got this many points you can work together to pick out a GROUP PRIZE

So I’ll explain the theory behind my madness here, the kids love to watch tv and it’s often difficult to pull them away once they’ve started but they also really enjoy the morning cartoons (like Tom & Jerry) so if they do well on this area (which is pretty easy considering they can skim by on their chores and usually still earn these points) they can watch some cartoons in the morning but within a designated time frame.

The prize box is a little shoe box tote I purchased at the dollar tree. This contains a variety of items that the kids enjoy such as stickers, various crafts, silly putty, gum, and grab and go craft packets. Inside the same tote I have rewards tickets split into the “Individual Prize” group and the “Group Prize” group (how many times can I say group in one sentence?) that they can pick from when they earn those rewards.
The individual prizes include things such as one-on-one time with mom, stay up later one night, 1/2 hour of extra TV time..etc. and then the Group section has things like go mini golfing, go out for dinner, go to the movies, etc.

Learning

I want to be sure that I am encouraging the kids to broaden their minds and their abilities this summer and to be prepared when they go back to school. We will be doing the summer reading program at our local library and I will be working with them on various other subjects.
Homeslice and Monster’s teachers gave them some worksheets that they can work on throughout the upcoming summer months and I have my own curriculum with Murry. I also buy these books pertaining to their upcoming grade levels and work with them throughout the summer.
I also have saved a variety of worksheets and craft ideas on Pinterest that I can print whenever we’re ready to work on them.

This is an example of one of the worksheets the kids will be working on during the first week. One of the overall goals of this summer is to build each child’s confidence level and to help them be an encourager as well as a positive thinker.

All About Me Worksheet JPG

If you’d like to get this worksheet to do with your child you can find it here.

Schedule

I haven’t come up with a set-in-stone schedule for the kids because let’s face it- it just isn’t going to work out. Our family has so much going on on any given day or at any given time that a set schedule just doesn’t work for us. Because of this I have come up with a weekly theme schedule and then at the beginning of each week I’ll map out a more specific plan. This is what the themed schedule looks like:

Week 1: Welcome to Camp Welgo
Getting to know the Camp Welgo rules, guidelines, and themes. Learning about the new chores and rewards. Take a week “off”

Week 2: Kindness Week
Make kindness rocks, hide kindness rocks, do something kind for a stranger, write thank you notes for loved ones. The kids have a 3-Day camp this week too.

Week 3: Camping Week
Fire safety, learning to set up tents, lunches over the fire pit, DIY walking sticks, how to make a teepee/shelter, leaf/plant/poison identifications, nature hikes, camping out.

Week 4: Color Week
Make tie-dye t-shirts, playing tag with paint balloons, melted crayon art, paint balloon darts, face painting, sidewalk art with chalk, finger painting, DIY thank you cards for people the kids know.

Weeks 5/6: Handy/Science Week
Can robots, washer jewelry, homemade birdhouses, diy solar oven, ice cream in a bag, food coloring with flowers & veggies, regrow veggie experiment, hydroponic gardening, clay art, volcanoes, mento/soda experiment.

Week 7: Spy Week
Scavenger hunts, search and find clues, fingerprinting, mystery dinner, mystery movie night, seek and find

I have been saving a bunch of ideas on my Pinterest account so if you’d like to see some of the ideas that I have saved you can check out my board here.

**Disclaimer: this post may contain some affiliate links. The views expressed in this post are solely that of the author and not of anyone else.
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Handmade Christmas Ornaments in a Time of Need

Since November just began we have tried to get some Christmas things up on our shop. I know, I know, it isn’t December yet! But we wanted to get them up sooner rather than later (we have some Thanksgiving things up too!) and I wanted to share the story of our gingerbread man ornaments with you.

gingerbreadman, christmas, christmas ornament

One Christmas many years ago when I was very very young Lisa (my mom) lost her job. This was a huge blow to our family and Christmas was looking pretty bare that year. For our family Christmas is extremely important and we have a long list of traditions that we stick to every year, we also come up with at least one new tradition each year. One of the traditions that we have is to buy a few new ornaments for our tree, usually Dennis and Lisa buy each of us kids an ornament and then a few for the family. But this specific year we could not afford ornaments and Lisa was extremely upset about it so Dennis decided to make his own ornaments for us.

Eventually Dennis came up with the idea of these gingerbread men, and so he set out to make them. He drew, cut, and painted them by hand and tried to give each one a little character. I mean, check out the sleepy gingerbread man with the butt flap! He even cut out a few extras that Jessica and I could paint and make our very own.

christmas ornament, christmas, gingerbreadman
Our Little Gingerbread Girl
gingerbread man, christmas, christmas ornament, ornament gingerbread
Gingerbread Boy in Overalls
gingerbread man, christmas, christmas ornament, ornament gingerbread
Gingerbread Man in Vest
gingerbread man, christmas, christmas ornament, ornament gingerbread
Gingerbread Man with Gumdrop Buttons
gingerbread man, christmas, christmas ornament, ornament gingerbread, teddy bear
The Infamous Sleepy Gingerbread Man With the Butt Flap!

The next year our family was back on our feet but we loved Dennis’ ornaments from the year before so much that he decided to try to make a few more for that year. The idea of doing birds came about because we live in the country and have a lot of little bird visitors in the winter. Dennis is a bird watcher and four of his favorites are the cardinal, blue bird, and blue jay so that is why we only have those four as ornaments (for now!). These are also completely handmade by Dennis and they also mean a lot to our family.

cardinal, bird, pine cone, christmas, christmas ornament, ornament
Cardinal with a Pine Cone
christmas, christmas ornament, ornament, cardinal, bird, holly branch
Cardinal on Holly Branch
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Blue Jay on Holly Branch
christmas, christmas ornament, ornament, blue bird, bird, holly branch
Blue Bird on Holly Branch

We wanted to share our family memories with everyone and that is why we have decided to add them to our shop. We tried to make them affordable because we know life is hard and we believe everyone should have a decorated tree for their holidays!

Stop by our page and check them out! Don’t forget to comment and let us know what you think!