Field Trips, Summer fun

Summer Learning Counts! by Cheryl

I track our school year in days. We need 180 days in a year. Most years we finish our curricula early. Some subjects – math and reading – we just move on to the next level and work until everything else is done. But most years we are left with a handful of school days to log. We finish off the year with some summer fun!

Two years ago we did two road trips. On our way to Cleveland we stopped in St Louis to visit my sister. We spent a day at the city museum. Then, while in Cleveland we visited a Great Lakes nature center and swam in Lake Erie. Science and geography!

We were in Cleveland to attend my friend’s wedding. My kids were exposed to more new foods than they had ever seen and they witnessed a beautiful Sikh wedding ceremony. While we did not count the wedding festivities in our official school days, how better to learn about another religion and culture than to be in the middle of such an important event!

On the way home we stopped to see the Native American Burial Mounds, the Creation Museum, and Merrimack Caverns. In that trip we logged five days of school. It was the most fun week of school we have experienced, but my kids learned more than they do in a week sitting at the kitchen table.

Our second trip was to Colorado. We hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park for three days. We studied the flowers, geography, and wildlife. My kids can now recognize a pika, marmot, and elk. On our way home we spent another day at the Garden of the Gods hiking and looking at the amazing rock formations!

This year we are taking another road trip. We will visit a science museum in Ft Walton Beach while at my family reunion, then we will spend four days at Disney World! My kids have never been so excited for a “field trip.”

Will I count the whole trip? No. But if schools can take field trips to the park, Six Flags, or other theme parks in our area – I see no problem counting a couple of days at Disney toward our school days. Epcot and Animal Kingdom both have excellent educational value.

We finish each school year with a theater camp. It is an intense two weeks of rehearsal. In camp they audition, cast, rehearse, and perform the show within that two week period. The skills gained in the camp are invaluable.

At home we also go to the zoo, the local science museum, the library, the pool, and  continue with reading and math. We may even finish off any science experiments we ran out of time for during the school year.

When we hit 180 days, I stop counting but we never stop learning. Summer is our time to unschool. We follow a Charlotte Mason/Classical model for nine months and then play for three. It gives our school some balance and makes us excited to dig into our books in August!


Cheryl–Cheryl is a singing, dancing, baking, homeschooling mom of three. She has danced her whole life and taught ballet and theatre for most of her adult life. Her favorite pastime has always been cooking and baking, and as a Pampered Chef Independent Consultant she gets to share that love with others. Home educating her three children has been and continues to be one of her greatest learning experiences! It is an adventure she is ready to continue.

Education is a Life, Summer fun

Summer Bucket List, by Lynn S

See how many of the activities you can enjoy this summer!

1: Go fruit picking at a local orchard.

2: Go swimming a local lake, pool, or even the sea.

3: Join a summer reading program. There are many online, often local libraries run them too.

4: Go for a day long walk. Pack a picnic and plenty of sunscreen and off you go!

5: Go to the cinema.

6: Go to a concert or play at your local park.

7: Keep a summer journal or scrapbook.

8: Camp in your back garden.

9: Visit a local tourist attraction that you have never been to.

10: Jump on a bus or train with no set destination in mind.

11: Go out and about with your camera and take lots of photographs

12: Make a list of butterflies you see over summer.

13: Pick wild blackberries.

14: Make Blackberry pie!

15: Press wildflowers and use them to decorate notecards.

16: Take blankets, pillows and duvets into the garden. Stay up late watching the stars.

17: Make lemonade.

18: Play hopscotch.

19: Make S’mores.

20: Spend the day under a tree with a good book.

21: Spend the day in your pyjamas watching movies with friends.

22: Make sun tea.

23: Have a water fight.

24: Make a blanket fort.

25: Make a list of things you would like to learn.

26: Write a letter to a friend or family member.

27: Paint a picture.

28: Do a crossword puzzle.

29: Learn to knit.

30: Take a nature walk.

31: Fly a kite.

32: Make breakfast in bed for a family member.

33: Learn a magic trick.

34: Make a treasure hunt, complete with map.

35: Write a song.

36: Watch the sun rise.

37: Bake cookies and take them to an elderly neighbour.

38: Paint rocks.

39: Attempt a world record.

40: Play in the rain.

41: Go for a bike ride.

42: Make a pizza – come up with your own topping.

43: Create your own board game.

44: Have a picnic for dinner in the garden.

45: Make a friendship bracelet.

46: Put on a puppet show for friends & family.

47: Make a sun dial.

48: Have a pillow fight.

49: Blow bubbles

50: Write a poem.


Summer Reading for Mom, by Cheryl

During the school year, I keep busy with school for the kids, their activities, and teaching dance. I take advantage of our lighter summer schedule and read, read, read! I read all year, but it can take me months to read even a short book. In the summer, I can finish a book in as little as a day. It’s wonderful!

What is on my list for this summer?  I am trying to read something inspirational, something motivational, something educational, and a few that are just for enjoyment.

Here is the start of my summer reading list.

The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius by Kristine Barnett

This is my inspirational book. That Ms. Barnett was able to customize the education of not only her son, but the students in her daycare and in the Little Light was amazing. I want to create that for my children.

“But if you fuel a child’s innate spark, it will always point the way to far greater heights than you could ever have imagined.” (p 249)

These beautiful words perfectly summarize what I felt reading the whole book. It makes me want to think and work outside the box.

For me, motivational reading is anything that reminds me why I am doing what I am doing (i.e. homeschooling) and helps keep me going. To that end, these books are on my table.

The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto has been on my list for two years. I have started it a few times, just not at the right time. I have tried to read it during the school year. I am dedicating a large portion of my summer reading time to this book.

My educational reads include these books.

Endangered Minds by Jane Healy, Ph.D. is actually something I started in January. It is a fascinating look at how television, computers, and gaming have affected the development of children’s brains. Like the Gatto book, I started it when I didn’t really have the time to dedicate to it. I am excited to get back into it!

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer is a book that I pick up yearly. I plan to reread the logic stage section as I prepare to step into the logic stage with my oldest in August.

I finished my first fictional book a couple of weeks ago. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult is a beautiful story about a family’s struggles as they care for their child with cancer. Although it was not a “fun” book. It was definitely a tear jerker. I could not put it down.

Other books on my fun (or fiction) list are Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, The Horse and His Boy, The Magicians Nephew, and The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (read alouds with the kids), and either a John Grisham or Jane Austen book. Or both.

As far as educational books, these are books that help me prepare for teaching my kids a topic either this year or down the line. We are studying biology and anatomy this year. I will grab a book or two from our school shelves to prepare for the year.

Reading brings me joy and helps me relax. I am busily crossing things off my to-do list so I have more time to read!

What are you reading this summer?


Picture credit: By Agnes Goodsir, via Wikimedia Commons


Cheryl–Cheryl is a singing, dancing, baking, homeschooling mom of three. She has danced her whole life and taught ballet and theatre for most of her adult life. Her favorite pastime has always been cooking and baking, and as a Pampered Chef Independent Consultant she gets to share that love with others. Home educating her three children has been and continues to be one of her greatest learning experiences! It is an adventure she is ready to continue.

Homeschool Wisdom, Preparation

Flip-flop Weather, by Lynne

We’ve finally made it to flip-flop weather here in Ohio.  After the giant sheets of ice covering everything in sight over the winter, I wasn’t sure we’d ever see warm and sunny temperatures again.  Summer is my favorite time of the year.  I could live in perpetual cook-out and pool party mode.  In fact, I spend a great deal of time floating around in my pool, staring up at the clouds and pondering life –  that is until one of the kids does a triple-whammy-twist jump into the pool and knocks me off of my raft.

During those floating times, though, I often think about school and lesson plans and how we are definitely NOT going to get behind schedule like we have every other year.  (Yeah, right.) I love planning out our school year and school topics.  I love looking at all the things I’ve accumulated for the next year.  I love coordinating field trips with lessons.

I have old-lady feet and cannot walk more than two minutes in those flimsy pieces of plastic that are de rigeur from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but I have my own version of flip-flop weather.  It’s the season where I start to doubt the path we are taking.  All that floating time allows me to question my philosophy of education, my choice of curriculum, and my sanity.  Am I doing the right things for my children?  Will they be academically or socially stunted because of how we choose to educate? Can I keep this up for six more years? I assure myself that yes, we’ve been over this a dozen times.  Homeschooling suits us.  My kids can function relatively well in society.  We’re fine.

In addition to pool time, I also have more time to read over the summer.What do I read?  Books, of course, but I also read blogs and articles about education. So, yes.  homeschooling is the bomb!  But, am I doing THAT right?  Is Classical Education really the way to go?  If the majority of today’s students are not being trained this way, will my kids be at a disadvantage in their future lives?  Maybe we should experiment with some other ways.  We know lots of other families who do things differently.  Maybe we should see what unschooling is like. Or, maybe we should explore a Charlotte Mason approach.  Or, maybe we should find out what the local schools are doing and incorporate some of that material in.  The choices seem endless.

I’m a very big fan of Classical Education.  I firmly believe in it.  But I don’t think that I know everything about everything, so maybe I’m wrong.  Well, not wrong.  Perhaps just a little too shortsighted or rigid? What would happen if we took a year off and did nothing but student-led learning?  What if we did nothing but read books?  What would happen if we enrolled the kids in a private school?  Maybe they’d be better off.

I’m leaving this article open-ended on purpose.  I don’t know if I have all the answers.  I think we’re doing the right thing. It appears to be working well.  For now, I’m leaving well enough alone. I’ve written so many articles about how fabulous a classical education has been for us all, and I still stand by that.  I’m just saying here that it’s okay to question yourself.  I think it’s good to question yourself and not get stuck in a rut.

Flip-flop.  Flip-flop.  Flip-flop.


Lynne–Lynne has enjoyed homeschooling her two sons for the past 4.5 years, after their brief stint in the local public school.  Her older son is a humorous fellow with high functioning autism who thrives in a home education environment.  Her younger son is a sensitive soul with a great deal of patience. The boys, Mom, and Dad, along with the two guinea pigs, live in Northeast Ohio.  Lynne holds a Master’s Degree in French Language and Literature.  She is also a Harry Potter fanatic, enjoys line dancing and Zumba, spends hours scrapbooking, and loves organic vegetables.  You can visit her soon-to-be revitalized blog at

Summer fun

Languid Summer Learning, by Briana Elizabeth

Dear readers: we will be moving to a weekly schedule this summer, so expect to hear from us every Monday.  Happy summer!

I’ve mentioned a few times that I live in an 1880 Victorian home, but what I often fail to mention is that we’ve made the choice to live without air conditioning. Now, I think that’s only possible because I live in New Jersey, as I’m sure if I resided in Louisiana, I would live in the air conditioning.

I won’t lie – that first year was hard but made easier because we are blessed to have a gorgeous pool, and we were in it every single day. In the evening, we would have a salad al fresco for dinner, and at dusk I would make sure everyone was bathed and cool, crisp nightgowns would be slipped over tan shoulders. The window fans would help them sleep soundly.


What had slowly happened living like that was that we found this long rhythm to our days. Kind of like when we were kids, and the summer days lasted forever and ever. You learn to do things like make your macaroni for salad first thing in the morning, so the house isn’t hot at night, and that you really were too hot all day to eat anything of substance, so ‘cooking’ becomes an assembling of ingredients.

fishing with grandpa

A slowness took over our days which gave us time for the luxury of leisurely reading. Now knowing how slow and languid our summers are, I make stacks of books for each child to read and some schooling goals to accomplish. Nothing heavy, but things that are easier to do without the school year’s outside obligations. And, surprisingly, we get so much accomplished without having to have tried at all. You can read an awful lot floating around in a pool (this is not a Kindle friendly exercise).


So my suggestion to you: put everything aside and set out for some long, languid days of dipping your toes in the river or fishing off docks. Enjoy catching critters in the creeks. Fill a jar with fireflies to be a nightlight. Pick up a book, lie on a riverbank, and read for the day. Pack up a picnic, go to a lake, and skip rocks. Take a trip down the shore (<–that’s a New Jerseyism; we don’t go to the beach – we go down the shore) and jump waves.


Here are some favorites we’ve enjoyed over our summers.



Huck Finn

The Seaside Naturalist

The Penderwicks

Swallows and Amazons series (companion nonfiction Ships, Sailors and the Sea)

Five Children and It

The Wouldbegoods (I howled in laughter reading this one, I’ll admit)

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles

Little Britches

My Family and Other Animals

For older children:

Horatio Hornblower series

Anything by PG Wodehouse

Anything by Jane Austen


So, what’s on your summer reading list?