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Savoring the Second Half of Summer

on July 13, 2013

It seems like, for many people, summer and other vacations speed by so quickly that we can hardly remember where the time went.  If that is the case for you– or even if you have started to get a bit of the mid-summer doldrums, and run out of fun and educational ideas– this is a great time to refocus and come up with a few more ways to make the most of the rest of the summer.

Free game and practice worksheets

Fun, free worksheets like these can be a great thing to take along on a driving trip, a lazy day at the beach, or just for a quiet hour under the trees in the backyard.

And here are some great ESL worksheets, too!


Free video lessons

When it’s just too hot to go out and play, and kids are restless, remember that your computer can connect you with a wide variety of free and fresh educational opportunities.  Here are a few links to get you started.

Cool food for hot weather

When the summer sun starts to take its toll on everyone’s energy and patience, check out some quick and easy recipes which don’t require you heating up the kitchen by firing up the stove or oven.  Many are both kid-pleasing and kid-friendly to assemble, so you can share the kitchen duties to speed up and/or socialize the process and make meals truly a family affair.

Try these great recipes for children to help prepare–  Summer Fruit, Cheese and Meat Kabobs from Dianne at Conceptual Learning and Watermelon Blueberry Banana Split from the late Kathy O’Reilly’s “Cooking With Children Can Be Easy”.


Here are a variety of other listings of hot weather meals your family might enjoy. Some are also useful for short-term power outages and other disaster situations, when you might go oven-free by necessity, rather than by choice.  Perhaps you could also discuss these scenarios with your students as you plan and prepare the recipes.


Farmers’ Markets

Many of the tastiest no-cook or quick-to-cook summer recipes involve enjoying the bounty of local summer fruits and vegetables in a fairly natural state. This is a wonderful opportunity to encourage our children (and whole families) to both eat healthily and learn or remember where these delicious foods come from. 

In summer, even a trip to the supermarket is usually a feast for the eyes, but perhaps you and your students would enjoy a visit to a local farmers’ market. 

There is something extra-enticing about produce that hasn’t traveled hundreds of miles or been sitting in cold storage for months (though we love those fruits and vegetables, too.) Small farmers are able to grow more-perishable and often more-unusual varieties than big commercial farmers do, so the variety of colors, shapes and sizes of fruits and vegetables can be nearly amazing.  Since the produce is often fresher and riper, it also tends to have a richer aroma, which is certainly an important element of both the anticipation and enjoyment of good food. 

Since many small farmers often consider education a part of their business, they are often a font of interesting information about the origin, history, and growth habits of the produce they sell.  What a delicious way to blend lessons in both nutrition and botanical science!

If you’re not familiar with any local markets in your area, these search engines might help you find one.  If there are none nearby, a drive to one in a neighboring area could be a fun family outing. Just remember to bring an ice chest to protect your enticing purchases from heat and damage on the ride home.


Find out more about fish

If your favorite summer adventures include a visit to the ocean, a lake or pond, or a river or stream, you may see some fish while you are recreating.  Why not bone-up on your fish facts before you go?  The following sites give lots of good information, as well as lesson ideas.

For more fish lessons, plus many more fun outdoor activities, check out the National Wildlife Federation’s “Connect Kids and Nature” pages.

Here are some cute books about fish. Look for more at your local library.


Want to get creative? Check out these neat fish art ideas.


If you like to get outdoors (and sometimes get wet), you might enjoy sport fishing.  It is a sport which allows children to practice both hand-eye coordination and patience.  It can also allow adults and children to enjoy some leisurely quiet conversation, as well as lots of excitement if and when the fish are biting.

It’s late in the summer for some of the organized free-fishing programs around the United States (many are held in June or near Independence Day). However, there is still a lot of interesting fishing information available from public parks, state and local fish and wildlife or natural resource organizations, and private associations like those below.  Check with your own local recreational agencies for more specific information and advice about your nearby opportunities.

Since we aren’t naturally equipped like fish, anytime you’re around water, it’s important to be very careful.  Here are some good tips for staying safe in and around the water.


Understanding wildfires and wildfire safety

Many children in rural areas grow up with fire safety practices and fire season preparations an integral part of their normal lives.  However, in years like this year and last, when devastating wildfires have been big news all across North America, children from all areas are more likely to be aware of wildland fire dangers.

Although we try our best to protect especially our young children from subjects that will cause them sadness or fear beyond their maturity level, some such events will affect children despite our best efforts.  In that case, sometimes information and a plan of action can provide important comfort and perspective to help children cope.

The Smokey Bear site offers information, games, and safety tips. It even has a map of active fires around the U.S., which might be interesting to older students.  Understanding your own local wildfire risks, and including children in fire safety practices in age-appropriate ways, can help them focus their energies into something positive and pro-active. 

You will also find a lot of good information at the educational links on this page.

For young children who are distressed by the apparent devastation of wildfire, you might help them find comfort and perspective through a book like,Fire! By Celia Godkin, (or for older pre-teen students,  Fire: Friend or Foe by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, both available from Childsake and other booksellers.) These books explain the important beneficial effects of wildland fires, of which many people are not aware.

You might also consider making a visit to your local fire station.  Most fire departments welcome young visitors; and a face-to-face visit with firefighters can be both educational and comforting.  Children can learn more about fire safety (at home and in wild areas), see the safety equipment and apparatus that help fire personnel do their job safely, and even thank them for the important job that they do.  Call ahead to your local station to see if they have any specific rules about visitations.

For more wildfire information and photos, check out these interesting sites, as well.


Museums and other tours

If you haven’t taken advantage of summer leisure and weather to visit a museum, historical site, or other nearby educational site, you still have time. It is amazing how much interesting perspective and knowledge a child can gain from an outing of just a few hours.  It may become a favorite family memory, as well.  Another potential benefit is that indoor sites like museums are usually air conditioned, so they could be a pleasant place to linger on a hot summer day.

If you cannot travel and/or you do not live in a big city, you can still probably find somewhere interesting to tour. Even small towns often have at least one small historical society or art museum.  Older towns may have a district of historic buildings and/or homes you could enjoy on a walking tour.  Local parks sometimes are built on historic sites, endowed by famous local residents, or have some other interesting story behind them.  So, if, like many of us this year, you are having a “stay-cation”, don’t forget to look “in your own backyard” for interesting and educational local opportunities you might have missed.

Rae from The Creative Process has compiled some interesting links which may provide ideas or additional enrichment.

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Last, if you haven’t read Summer Fun Makes for Summer Memories, our round-up of summer reminiscences and fun ideas from the American Montessori Consulting Resource Partners, don’t miss it.

There is plenty of summer enjoyment and enrichment left to savor, so get out and make the most of it!  Be safe and have fun!

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