Friday, May 12, 2017

Summer Scholé - Taking Learning Outside

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I'm a big believer in learning in year round learning.  Of course the type of learning and even the setting can look different, but we shouldn't just turn our brains off during the summer!

In the spring and summer months, I love to take learning outside as much as possible.  If you are looking for ideas for how to have a restful, soul enriching time of learning as the weather warms up,  read on!

Gather Your Group and Find Your Setting

We had a great group last year that was comprised of 4 families.  There were 8 actively participating children, ranging in ages 8 down to 3.

I made a flyer to share with others what our group was about.  I printed these out (1 sheet, front and back) and handed them out to a few families that I thought might be interested in joining us.  In case it might be helpful for you, here is what I came up with:

We picked a very large park to meet at.  It was a place where we could always find a place that wasn't being occupied by others so they wouldn't distract us and we wouldn't bother them =)

The year before, I had families over to my backyard for our summer learning, so don't feel limited by your choices of local parks, just be creative and pick any outside setting that will work for you!

Choose Your Subjects

We settled on covering three subjects each week.  You can choose anything that would be conducive to learning in a group and being outside.  We did poetry, nature study (birds), and art.


I led the poetry portion, which I absolutely loved!  Each week I planned a new poem to memorize, a fun way to learn about poetry, and made copywork to send the kids home with so they could practice during the week.  

For instance, the first week, I read a poem called Alphabet Stew.  As I was reading it, I had the children reach into a bag of alphabet tiles and 'mix' them (like a pot of stew) while I read the poem.  Then I read a poem called The Ant and pulled letters out of our alphabet stew to make the rhyming words at the end of each line.  

5 Poetry Activities for Young HomeschoolersAnother week, we read a poem called Talents Differ.  It is a story about a little girl looking out her window and seeing a bird making a nest and getting ready to lay her eggs.  The poem is a conversation going back and forth between the girl and the bird, so I had the children pair up, one being the bird and one being the girl.  They got to act the poem out while saying their lines.

If you are interested, I could write a separate post outlining exactly what I taught each week.  If you want to read more about general ideas for teaching young children poetry, I wrote a post on the iHomeschool Network blog about that, so check it out!


Another one of the moms led the art section.  She picked out a different artist for each week and brought examples of their work for the children to look at.  She would read a picture book about the artist or share information about their life and style.  Then she had an art project that corresponded to the artist for the week.  The project would mimic the artist's style in some way.  

The children used swirls to make a starry night like Van Gogh, they used wild flowers to create blurry nature paintings like Rembrandt, they used chalk on the ground to make BIG, up close flower paintings like O'Keefe, dipped their hands in paint to mimic Worhol's style, and more!

Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

Nature Study

For the last subject of the day, we got to move around and really observe nature.  Another one of the moms led us in our study of birds.  Each week she would come with information to share about a different type of bird.  She would read the children a story about birds, have the children color a picture of the bird of the week, show them what the bird sounds like, etc.

The first week, she had the children make pretend binoculars using two toilet paper tubes and set them each up with a little notebook, pencil, and a simple one page bird guide.  Then each week after she shared about the particular bird of the week, she would send them to different spots to watch for birds and draw what they saw in their notebooks.  The children loved it and it was such a nice way to encourage a love of nature.

So what are your plans for this summer?  Do you take a full summer break or do you find ways to keep the learning alive?  I would love to hear what you have in mind!  We are getting ready to have another Summer Scholé time like we did last year and I can't wait!

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