Work Hard, Play Harder: The Read-a-thon

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” (Ecc. 3:1) Join us as we explore a season of fun and family! Help us discover new ways to enjoy family time and build lasting memories.

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Summer_work-playI am an avid reader. Everyone in my immediate family is; from the man, all the way down to the little man. Us in a bookstore is a dangerous thing, my friend. One way our family enjoys having fun is through our local library, participating in the summer reading program.

Now, I understand that reading it not fun for everyone. For those who do not enjoy, I am truly sorry. There is an entire world you are missing.

As parents, one way we can inspire our children to read, is to read ourselves! Whenever a parent shares their struggle in getting a child to read, the first question I ask is how often they, as parents, read. Often, the answer is, “hardly ever”. We cannot expect our children to do that which we do not model for them. If you want your children to enjoy reading, you must be excited about reading yourself.

Back to the point at hand… One way to encourage a love of reading in the entire family, is the summer reading program! Everyone, from pop down to the little people, are free to join in. (Disclaimer: I should specify that our local library has a program for everyone; no matter the age. I understand not all libraries do this.)

During the summer reading program, we turn in weekly reading logs to earn prizes for our hard work. At the end of summer, there are special prizes awarded to those with the most reading tickets! Our kids walk away each week with a cute, little prize. I usually walk away with raffle tickets towards the bigger prizes.

At the end of summer, the library hosts a huge end of summer party. For completing the reading program, you get tickets for free ice cream, face painting, balloon animals, and more!

Paws to Read

So, what do you do if your library doesn’t host a summer reading program? If you have the time, I would highly recommend organizing a committee to get a program started! Offer to help out at the library or find out how to bring such a program to your area. Lacking in time? (Aren’t we all?) Consider hosting your own ‘family reading program’! Set a goal for each member of your family and announce prizes for each week’s goal. At the end of the summer, have a party to celebrate all your hard work and remember all the fun books you’ve read.

Our library picks a theme each year. In fact, I think the entire state of California is using this current theme. This year, we are focusing on “Paws to Read”. Get it? We are using an animal theme to help children get excited about reading. We are welcome to read any book in the library, but we get extra credit for reading books about animals; fiction or non.

Reading is loads of fun! (At least for us.) I cannot imagine summer time without the summer reading program. For our family, the reading program also means lots of fun and tons of memories.

Time to Chime In: What is your fondest memory from a summer reading experience?

Reading is So Delicious!

It is that time of year once again. Between all the activities planned for our summer of fun and jumping from pool to pool, time needs to be made for this very important summer tradition… The Summer Reading Program! This year’s theme: Reading is So Delicious!

Reading is So DeliciousOur local library started sign-ups for the reading program this past Thursday. Due to that date being my little girl’s birthday, we were unable to make the opening event.  However, that is not going to stop us from signing up as soon as we can.

After a brief search on the internet, I found the California Library Association‘s outline for this summer’s reading program. Wow! There are some awesome links and downloads available!

Some suggested activities are local food drives and stuffed animal midnight feast events. There are story time models and age appropriate reading lists available as well.

It seems the focus this year is not only on reading some great books, but on keeping our bodies healthy as well. A few activities will base their lessons on healthy eating, cooking, and creating cookbooks. Reading is Yummy

Not one to be left out, I too plan to participate in this summer’s reading program (as I usually do). So, as the kiddos are busy filling out their own registration cards, mommy is going to be filling out one of her own.

Last summer I came away with a few fun prizes, a cookbook included. Who knows what this summer might bring; free ice cream, pizza, or books to keep?

No matter the prize, this summer is sure to be delicious… books and all!

Are you signed up for the summer reading program?

A Red Letter Day

Today was a full day of adventure in our household. We had two field trips and some shopping fun!

Our homeschool group decided to split into separate groups for a dual trip; the younger kids heading into the LA library and the older ones to the LA Times.

LA Times #1

The big kids had an adventurous morning exploring the LA Times.

LA Times #2

A linotype on display.

LA Times #3

Copies of previous editions of the paper.

LA Times #4

My oldest gal having a great time. (One mommy joked that this field trip was just for her.)

LA Times #5

Old photography paraphernalia on display.

LA Times #6

Darrell, the tour guide. He was fantastic!

LA Times #7

The outside of the Times building.

LA Times #8

A water powered printing press.

LA Times #9

The printing floor of the Times.

LA Times #10

In the lobby of the print building, are these neat statues. We couldn’t walk away without taking some fun pictures!

LA Times #11

One of our mommies having fun.

LA Times #12

LA Times #13

The first paper printed at the LA Times (well, a reproduction anyway).

LA Times #14

The paper room; it holds enough for two and a half, perhaps three, months worth of paper.

LA Times #15

Learning about paper weight and the amounts of paper on each roll.

LA Times #16

This ought to give you an idea of how high and how big these stacks of paper are. They each way approximately 1500 lbs.

LA Times #17

The printing presses.

LA Times #18

This is the room where the plates are made for each day’s printing.

LA Times #19

Processing the plates takes precision and time.

LA Times #20

The processing room, where the papers are checked (right off the line) and then put together.

LA Times #21

Uncle Sam helping out with some handy printing.

LA Times #22

Darrell and our gang, as the day was ending.

LA Library #1

The littler kids spent some time at the library. This has got to be one of the largest libraries I have ever seen! There are seven stories in all.

LA Library #2

The children’s section reception desk.

LA Library #3

The picture book section of the library; JUST the picture book section. This does not even begin to cover the non-fiction, fiction, reference, or board books. WOW!!!

LA Library #4

My middle girlie having a good read.

LA Library #5

It seems no matter which library we are in, this book must be found and read. So, here we go!

Our day was definitely full. We met up with our friends at nine this morning and didn’t actually finish our tour until about three.

Afterwards, my girls decided they needed to see the library where their brother had spent part of his morning, so back we went; they were amazed and delighted. It took quite a bit of cajoling to get them out the door. (Which turned into a fiasco in-and-of itself! The parking structure system is hideous!)

While it might seem like this should be end of our day, it wasn’t over yet. We had another side trip to make on Olvera Street.

For those who haven’t read American Girl books before, it seems all the characters are turning ten in the books; one book out of each set is dedicated to their birthdays alone. My daughters are huge AG fans.

When my oldest girl turned ten, we treated her to a day at the LA American Girl store, lunch and all. To top off the day, we bought her the outfit which matched her favorite character, Kit Kittredge.

My second little lady is turning ten in another thirteen days! Unfortunately, AG does not sell an outfit for her favorite character, Josefina. Thus… a trip to Olvera Street was in order. Olvera Street (for those who have probably never heard of it) contains a plethora of all things Mexican. Josefina is a Mexican-American character and we knew we would find the perfect outfit right here.

Sure enough we did! She looks absolutely adorable! The outfit fits her beautifully, closely matches the character in the book, will last for quite some time, and was extremely affordable. (I will post pictures of her, in all her cuteness, on her actually birthday.)

Whew!

After ALL this fun, it was most definitely time to return home and get some much deserved rest.

After sitting in loads of traffic, we are finally here. The kiddos and I are relaxing with some tube while the man gets forty winks. After a good meal and some rest, I might just be ready to tackle what looks like another extremely full day tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

A Piece of Local History

It never fails to amaze me; no matter how many times I do something, I can always learn more. Just yesterday, while visiting the same library I have gone to every week for years now, I found a new section of the library I didn’t even know existed! In a tucked away portion of our library, lies a piece of local history.

In a small room next to the information desk, is a wonderful collection of pictures, artifacts, and information about the city. To make learning even more fun, interactive exhibits help make your time all the more interesting. Here you are encouraged to learn all you can about the history of our town and the people who have helped build this valley.

Local History (1)

An interactive exhibit, teaching us more about local history.

Local History (2)

A map of the area, along with some historical documents about the founding of the city.

Local History (3)

Another interactive exhibit teaching available for all to use.

Local History (4)

Artifacts, documents, and general information on the founding and history of the city.

Local History (5)

The door to a hidden treasure!

Wow! I am so amazed that this little gem has been within reach this whole time and I didn’t even know it!

I am going to need to carve out some time to pull my kids into this exhibit and enjoy some local history. Who knows what we might discover!

 

The Last-Minute Rush

The end of the week is here and we are ready to tackle our two final projects before starting school… printing and library!

Imagine waking up to start school; everyone is at the table ready to go. You pull out your books, ready to begin. You pray, you open up your Bible, and then… you remember that you forgot to print out the lesson you prepared! Rrrrrr….

In order to avoid this annoyance, I make sure to set aside at least a half an hour every Friday to do nothing but print any documents that I might need for school in the coming week. This will save from last-minute rushing on Monday morning and afford me the opportunity to double-check anything that might be needed.

As we are starting on Monday, this morning I made sure to do just that. Any worksheets for Spanish, Bible, and our unit study are now ready to go. I have proofread them one last time, printed them, and tucked them into their corresponding books. Come Monday, I can relax; knowing that I am as fully prepared as I can be. 

Our other project is library time! Every Friday, I make sure we head to the library and get ourselves a stack of new books. The kids are allowed to pick their own reading materials and I have the opportunity to grab literature that pertains to our current unit study.

When we are at the library, I have made it clear that books are our goal. Our library features an activity booth and computer terminals, but that is not our purpose in being there. We have computers at home. We have games and activities at home, we can play when we return. Now, is the chance for them to delve into some good reads; the rest can wait. (Every once in a while, I do let them play at the activity booth but only after they have picked some good books first.)

Today is no exception! We are ready to head out to our library, grab some awesome reads, and then perhaps enjoy some ice cream. I can’t think of a better way to prepare for the coming year!

Off we go….

 

And Their “Off”…

Learning about lightbulbs

Literally!… We had no electricity from 9am till 3pm this afternoon, due to the fact that someone was working on something in our neighborhood. One day without power doesn’t seem like that big of a deal until you consider that we live in Southern California, home of eternal sunshine and temperatures of 100˚ or more, and we work from home.

 

We weren’t sure what do with a whole day lacking electricity, but it turns out the Lord did! It seems we needed to learn appreciation for and the importance of electricity!

I got up a little earlier than the kiddos and made sure to pack our cooler with water bottles, a little milk, eggs, and some sandwich makings. I loaded it with ice and then (because kids tend to forget) snagged a couple of my husband’s zip ties and “locked” the fridge.

Electricity, E-lectricity
(School House Rock)

When our babies got up, the lessons began. We learned that you can’t open the fridge… no electricity! We learned you can’t use your appliances (other than our stove)… no electricity! When we finally decided we could eat potatoes and the eggs mommy put in the cooler, along with some fresh fruit, we learned that you can’t start the stove like usual. You have to light the pilot yourself, because without electricity, the mechanism won’t work. There were no lights to use the restroom… electricity! No fans to cool the house… electricity! Worst of all, no air-conditioning… electricity!

When my hubby woke up (he tends to sleep in late as he works until the wee hours of the morning), we all decided it was too hot to stay in the house. It was time to find something else to do. We decided to head over to the library, as it was our usual day, and were given a wonderful surprise. As a treat for finishing the summer reading program, the kids all received free ice cream from Cold Stone! Oh, yeah; we needed that! In addition to the ice cream, they all received a free video rental and a book to keep. We grabbed our ice cream, headed out to the splash pad, and spent the afternoon enjoying being cool.

What we resort to when we have no electricity!

Before we knew it, it was 3 o’clock and we were ready to head back home. The kids were excited to watch their rentals and the hubby and I needed to get some work done. Walking into our air-conditioned, electricity filled home was such a blessing.

Today we learned some valuable lessons. Our kids were able to see how much electricity affects our lives. They learned how to function in an electricity free environment. Most of all, we learned to appreciate a blessing we often take for granted.

 

Summer School: Scheduling Fun

School has ended; the books are put away, the paperwork is filed, and the heat has begun to hit. With twelve weeks of summer ahead of us; what do we plan to do with our free time? … Summer School!

Learning about sea creatures in Monterey Bay

(Gasp) Summer School? I can hear the groans of children all over America and imagine the questioning looks from parents. Why on earth would I want to do summer school voluntarily? My kids must really be behind, right? (Come on, I know that’s what you are thinking. Be honest.) In all seriousness though, there are several great reasons why we do summer school and none of them have to do with my kids’ lack of education. In fact, just the opposite!

 

Learning about Germany

There are three basic reasons why we do summer school. 

  • My kids and I get to have some great fun together! We enjoy each other’s company and learning becomes a family event that everyone enjoys!
  • My kids don’t lose any of their skills. Studies show that children will lose about twenty-five percent of their skills over a summer vacation. The beginning of a school year can be challenging enough without the kids getting frustrated at their lack of memory. We make sure we work in a small amount of workbook time everyweek. Nothing stressful and nothing too complicated. Just something to keep them “up to par” and prep them for their next grade level.
  • My kids never have an opportunity to get bored. I make sure that I keep our summer activities very hands on and fun! The kids look forward to each new learning day, knowing that Mommy has something fun for them to do. Once we are done with the activities, they know they have the remainder of the day to play and do whatever else they might have planned.

Like all other activities I plan, I try to be very organized about our summers. In order to do this, I create a routine for myself. This helps me to know on which days we are doing things and which events I am going to prep for. Here is our basic routine for summer:

  • Monday-Summer Vacation Workbooks/Hands on Geography
  • Tuesday-Science Experiments
  • Wednesday-Summer Vacation Workbooks/Fair Projects
  • Thursday-Field Trip (if available)/Library Journals for Summer Reading Program
  • Friday-Library/Park Day or Friend Visit

Now that I have our routine in place, I will start plugging in the details. Interested? Come back tomorrow for our list of summer workbook suggestions!

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part Five

Fail-to-planI love it when a plan comes together. That is how I feel when I set about planning my routines. Once we put them into place and they start working for us, it is a beautiful thing.

Now that I have my chores, events, and schooling organized; I need to put them all together and get moving. Once the school year starts, I will need to put all of my organizing together and make these separate schedules work together smoothly. This will help me, once again, see where I might need to do some last-minute rearranging and restructuring. It will also help to see where I have some flexible hours, in case anything should come up.

The first things I want to combine are my chores and my schooling. As I mentioned in Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part One; my first ministry is to be a keeper of my home. If the house and my kids’ education cannot be merged smoothly, events need to wait. My weekly schedule with both chores and schooling combined usually looks like this:

Monday:

  • Start load of my laundry right before Bible
  • Do Bible lesson and start kids on core curriculum
  • Change loads of laundry at breaks or between subjects
  • Finish Core Subjects and begin History & Science
  • Lunch Time and Finish Laundry
  • Family Chores
  • “Rotations”
  • Remainder of the Day Free

Tuesday:

  • Start load of kids’ laundry right before Bible
  • Do Bible lesson and start kids on core curriculum
  • Change loads of laundry at breaks or between subjects
  • Finish Core Subjects and begin History & Science
  • Lunch Time and Finish Laundry
  • Family Chores
  • “Rotations”
  • Remainder of the Day Free

Wednesday:

  • Start load of linens right before Bible
  • Do Bible lesson and start kids on core curriculum
  • Change loads of laundry at breaks or between subjects
  • Finish Core Subjects and begin History & Science
  • Lunch Time and Finish Laundry
  • Family Chores
  • “Rotations”
  • Remainder of the Day Free

Thursday:

  • Do Bible lesson and start kids on core curriculum
  • Finish Core Subjects and begin History & Science
  • Lunch Time
  • Mommy does grocery list and menus
  • “Rotations”
  • Remainder of the Day Free for kids
  • Grocery Shopping for Mom

Friday:

  • Testing on all core subjects (All of our testing is done Fri.)
  • Collect Library Books and Straighten up House
  • Library
  • Errands
  • Lunch
  • Homeschool Co-op or other Homeschooling Event
  • Remainder of the Day Free for kids

Normally we are finished with school anywhere from 2-3pm each day, with the exception of Friday. Friday is quite a bit shorter, but I plan it that way on purpose; counting our library time and our homeschooling events as part of their education.

Once this list of chores and schooling as been combined onto one master schedule; I can now add my events. Knowing that I am pretty busy Monday through Thursday, I usually avoid planning events on those days. Should the need arise though, I am free after 3pm and know I am available. Fridays are usually the days that I try to plan anything special or extra.

With life more organized, we are free to have fun events like this one… Renaissance Night with the homeschool group!

As with most things in life, this schedule isn’t perfect. There are days when we take longer to school or there is an unexpected event which causes us to rearrange our schedule; field trips during the week can cause a temporary change for example. This schedule isn’t meant to be concrete and final, simply a structure that I put into place; one that I am free to move around and fit to my family’s needs.

1 Corinthians 14:40 says, “But all things should be done decently and in order.” I pray that the Lord would find me faithful in having obeyed His Word; that my family would be a living example of what He has commanded us to do; that He would be glorified and honored through the keeping of my home, the education of my children, and the ministry we accomplish in our free time. It is not for our own name that we do these things, but His.

Reading is Key

My husband and I have always enjoyed reading. Even before having our kids, we each had a vast collection of children’s literature. He tended to choose books based on their artistic appeal (being an artist) and I on the whimsical story lines.
It seemed only natural for us that as we began having kids, they also be exposed to the wonderful world of the printed word. From the minute they were born, they became used to watching me read while nursing. As they grew older they would sit on our laps and listen to us read for hours on end. Now it is a pleasure to watch them eagerly search our home and local library, scouring the shelves for books they have yet to explore.
Today as we signed up for yet another Summer Reading Program, it was a joy to see my babies’ eyes light up and anticipate what the summer holds. I cherish these moments with my little ones and hope that they look back on their youthful reading with fondness, as my husband and I do.
If you have yet to share the wonderful world of books with your children, you don’t know what you are missing. It is never to late to start. Find your local library and sign up for their Summer Reading Program. Grab a cart full of books and begin a journey you will not regret. The time you spend reading both on your own and with your child will not be wasted or forgotten; your children will grow in wisdom, imagination, and in heart. You will see your relationships bloom and grow while you talk about all the amazing things you read.
Reading is a key element in life. So, pick up a good book and see where it takes you!