Hey there! You’re listening to the Mighty Mommy with some quick and dirty tips for practical parenting.
This week’s guest author is Beth Engelman. Ms. Engelman currently writes a column for Sun- Times News Group’s Pioneer Press. Her column, Mommy on a Shoestring is chock-full of tips, games, and activities moms can do on the cheap. Prior to becoming a columnist, Ms. Engelman was an elementary school teacher, educational therapist, and curriculum writer. Today she is going to discuss easy things moms can do with their kids over the summer to strengthen reading, writing, and math skills. To learn more about Ms. Engelman or to read her Mommy on a Shoestring column, check out her website at www.mommyonashoestring.com or find her column at www.pioneerlocal.com.
Summer Time and the Learning is Easy
Even though school is over, you can help your children continue to strengthen their math, reading, writing, and social skills all summer long with the following easy, fun, and inexpensive ideas.
Tip 1: READ! READ! READ!
Encourage your children to read wherever they go-- from libraries and amusement parks to grocery stores and beaches! Reading opportunities are everywhere. Examples include:
• Helping mom and dad: Have your kids help mom or dad with directions in the car by identifying the correct street or address. (You can even do this with your little ones. For example, Ms Engelman often cues her 3½ year old by saying, I am looking for a street that begins with the letter “w.”)
•Read with mom and dad: Take your kids with you to a café or coffeehouse where you both read your own book / magazine / newspaper. It’s always good to model how much you love reading. Or sit with your child and read a chapter book aloud. Choosing books you loved as a child will make the reading more fun for everyone.
•Read pool rules: Before jumping in your local pool, have your children read the pool’s rules out loud to show them how reading helps remind everyone of important rules for staying safe. If your children are pre-readers, you can read the rules to them while pointing out individual words.
•Go to the library: Visit your local library, which often has special summer reading programs and incentives for completing these programs.
Tip 2: Create a Reading Photo Album
Most kids love taking pictures, so leverage this interest by helping them make a summer photo album filled with pictures of them reading in different places! Some ideas include: reading at the park, the beach, the hammock in the backyard, or even on top of a Ferris wheel (Yikes!). You can make it a family challenge to come up with as many different and unique places as possible.
Tip 3: Open a Lemonade Stand
Help your kids get into the entrepreneurial spirit while strengthening their math skills with a time-honored lemonade stand. Not only will your kids reinforce their measuring, counting, adding, and subtracting skills, but they will also learn the value of a dollar, which is always a valuable lesson.
Tip 4: Put on a Puppet Show for Family, Friends, and Neighbors
This is a great way to incorporate reading, writing, math and art into one giant project. Here are some helpful hints to make the experience extra-special.
• Choose a good story: When adapting a story into a script, try choosing a well-loved fairytale or fable, which are often filled with a mixture of rich characters and interesting plot twists to keep the show moving along.
• Make your own puppets: Make puppets using tube socks, tacky glue, scraps of material, yarn, googly eyes and anything else you might have on hand.
• Create a puppet stage: Use a large box, fabric and tacky glue to create a puppet stage. If you do not have an empty box on hand, try finding one at your local hardware or appliance store.
• Make a playbill: Encourage your children to create their own playbill, which can be passed out to audience members as they arrive. Not only is this a nice feature for the audience, it’s also an excellent writing exercise for your children.
• Don’t forget about refreshments!: Work with your children to bake treats such as cookies or cupcakes that can be “sold” during intermission or enjoyed after the show. Cooking is an excellent way to incorporate sequencing, measuring, and counting, which are vital math skills at any level.
Tip 5: Host a Family Game Night
Family game night is an entertaining way to strengthen core math, reading, and social skills, while promoting family togetherness. Look for games that cater to a multi-age / multi-skill level crowd such as Bingo, Candyland, Monopoly or The Game of Life. Make the evening more memorable by creating a favorite game night snack such as a Candyland parfait.
Tip 6: Get Cooking
Summer break is the perfect time to get your kids interested in cooking and nutrition. Talk to your children about their favorite kinds of food, restaurants, and store bought items. Encourage your children to look through cookbooks and recipe boxes for new ideas and twists on old favorites. To make the meal planning more memorable, let your children turn your kitchen into a restaurant for the night. Your chefs can shop with you for the needed groceries, design the menus, decorate the tables, pick the mood music, and wait on their customers. Who knows, you might find your child is the next Wolfgang Puck.
That’s it for now.
This week Laura Adams, the host of our Money Girl podcast, has a new audiobook out called Money Girl's Guide to Retirement Planning. Whether you’re just getting started or need to take a hard look at the savings plan you currently have in place, Money Girl’s Guide to Retirement Planning is the resource you need to insure security, and maybe even a little luxury, during your retirement years. You can download “Money Girl’s Guide to Retirement Planning” for $5.95 at iTunes or at Audible.com.
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