April 30, 2015

Summer Science, Math, and Home Ec.

As those who have small children in school probably already know, kindergarten through third grade pretty much all cover the same lessons with each year just being a bit more involved than the year before. This helps lay a foundation of the fundamentals in a way that really "sticks" since we all learn through repetition. Now that Boo Bear is in third grade, we've had our hands full with projects and in depth explanations more than we have in the past three years.

She's so incredibly proud of her baby bean plants!
Both girls have always had a strong interest in science, with the biological sciences being of particular interest. So, we're going all out in our life science studies this year, which is one reason we put off the subject throughout the winter in favor of making it a spring and summer subject. Our biggest project of the year started a couple of weeks ago when we did the usual sprout beans in a plastic baggie experiment, and it will end this fall when we're harvesting the fruits of our family's labor.

As you might have guessed given the opening experiment and photo above, our big project this year is our first family patio garden. The photo was taken of Boo's successful bean sprouts just after we planted them in starter pots last weekend. All seven are now between six inches to a foot tall and preparing to sprout their second set of leaves. The girls have been keeping track of their growth and development in science journals.

This evening and tomorrow afternoon will mark the second phase of this project. After work and school this afternoon, Hubby and I will handle the heavy lifting for it. That is to say, we'll clear out the pots we're recycling and place the cement blocks we're going to use as risers for some of the pots. Then we'll get rock, potting soil, a new garden hose, hand shovels, and the other seedlings we'll need sometime tomorrow.

The girls will help with the actual planting and record these steps in their journals. Then throughout the summer and on into the fall harvest, they will continue to make observations and record them in their journals as they help with everything from weeding and watering to pruning, harvesting, cooking, and preserving the excess. So not only will this project count toward science, but it's a start into home economics too.

Boo baking cookies for her birthday last year.
Further into the summer, we hope to be able to take the girls on field trips to the botanical gardens, local nature trails, and a relatively nearby zoo as well. I could also see a few mornings spent at the local farmer's markets to see other crops or to sell, depending on the productivity of their plants.

In addition to learning how to grow, harvest, and preserve vegetables, we're beginning cooking and sewing lessons for both girls as well. Boo Bear watched me start another batch of root salad last night. I found an old children's cookbook I used to learn with when I was Boo's age about a month ago, and we're planning to make a few of those recipes with them over the coming weeks. And I'm taking sewing lessons now, so I can help them move past hand stitching in a couple months. Plus, there's the usual chores they are beginning to do by themselves or help us with around the house.

Sneak loves to dust because spraying the polish is fun.
Summer is the perfect time for a little sneaky schooling, especially when it comes to subjects that translate directly into life skills. Most kids love watching things grow and change, making things, and playing. There's a lot you can teach them by making things a game or asking them to help you with something. Yes, sometimes they might not be as much actual help as they think, but they'll still learn from watching you and even by the mistakes they make along the way.

With the end of the traditional school year only weeks away, I encourage parents to think about ways to keep your kids engaged and thinking during their break. Any kind of book that gets them reading is great to keep their reading skills sharp. Running a lemonade stand, helping with a yard sale, or even just helping measure ingredients for cooking help them retain math skills. Take them to museums, parks, or even the movies and then ask them questions along the way about their surroundings or what they liked best to help them stay observant and curious. What other things can you think of to stave of summer "brain drain" while keeping things fun?

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