Thursday, May 23, 2013

What’s in our Summer Binders? My take on how to plan your summer.

Last summer I made absolutely no plans for our family.  I was in survival mode.  I was living one day at a time.  Really I was living one minute at a time.  Our move last year nearly did me in.  It did me in physically, but it really did me in emotionally. 

I completely beat myself up over what we were doing to our kids.  I felt bad that they had to be shuffled around.  I felt bad that we would be so temporary.  I was upset that we had to live in four different places over the summer. I was worried that they would have a hard time making friends.  I was sad that I couldn’t make permanent plans like putting them in piano or sports. 

Looking back, I realize that all my worries actually caused me to miss a great summer with my kids.  Instead of living in the moment, I was worried about all the moments we might miss.  Because of my attitude; I didn’t plan a single thing.  We just lived a day at a time, and the summer came an went(and I was a mess). Nonetheless, we did have fun, I just didn’t realize it at the time.  Kids are resilient and they are so good to go with the flow.  I wish I wouldn’t have beaten myself up, and just enjoyed myself more.  Even though I was there with my kids last summer, I must say I wasn’t really there.  I was home, but not home if you follow me.

This summer, we are moving again. I have made a little pinky promise with myself that I won’t miss out on moments with my kids this year.  Kids really only have a handful of summers to be kids; and then they grow up and do their own thing.  I am right in the thick of that and I don’t want to miss out on this summer with my kids.  Even though we are moving, I am going to let things go.  I am going to stop packing or unpacking and just take the kids to the park.  I am not going to let this move interfere with our summer.  I will not beat myself up because of the change that is happening.  I will resolve to just enjoy being together.

With that in mind, I am going to be very deliberate about our summer.  In fact; that is the motto I live by.  I want to be a deliberate mother.  I want every choice and decision I make to have a purpose. 

I am the type of person that has to have a plan.  When I have a plan, I am a go getter.  I get things done.

 photo SummerCampBinders-0053_zpsd988d86f.jpg

…and that is where our summer binders comes in to play.

Our summer binders are the plan. 

Do you have plans for you summer?  How will you make your child’s summer great.

Maybe your summers are great when you are a fly by the seat of your pants kinda gal; which is awesome if it works for you.  If you are like me, and like to have a plan maybe this little idea will work well for your family. 

This idea just might help you get your summer under way.

When putting your own binders together, this is the perfect time to sit down as a family and discuss 5 things.

1. Give your summer a name, and a purpose.

We have named our summer; Swenson Family Summer Camp.  Our summer is too crazy to enroll them in any camps or extracurricular activities.  So we will have our own camp at home.

Purpose: To enjoy our summer doing things we love and want to do, enjoy being together, accomplish items on our to-do list, and have a deliberate summer.

2.  Make a list of the things that must get done each day.  For our family it is: piano practice, reading, morning chores, and some educational activities for the little ones.  Even though summer is a great time to play, it is also not a free for all.  I don’t want to be a crazy mom at the end of the summer because we let everything else go and only had fun.  It is important for kids to learn that there is a time for play, and there is a time for work.

This should be a list of activities that can keep the kids brains and bodies active, and your house clean.  No mother wants to have a summer break and live in a dirty house all summer.  Enlist the kids to help with this.

3. What activities are you dying to do this summer? What are your summer vacation plans? Is there any place locally that you want to visit? Will you enroll your kids in any camps(when an where and what are the dates?)

This is a great time to sit down with your family and look over all those fun kid projects you have pinned on Pinterest.

4.  Look over your calendar and write in days that are taken up by family reunions, birthdays, vacations, holiday parties, camps, or any other important event(for us moving dates.)

Fill those in on your calendar first.

5. Make the rest of your schedule and get them in your binders.

The last step is typing up your plan and putting it in the binder. Every child and mom has there own binder.

 photo SummerCampBinders-0059_zpsf6cfb3cc.jpg

P.S.  I found the adorable polka-dot binders at Walmart.  Can you say cute?

Here is how our family binders and our plan came together to give you an example.

Step One: accomplishing the items on our to-do list. 

Mom always has things she has to do.  I would love to spend all day every day enjoying the kids, but we all know there is laundry to be done; among other things like packing and unpacking.  Each morning we will accomplish our to-dos.

We came up with 6 to-dos.  They are to work on these together as a team. 

We came up with a schedule which we may or may not stick to minute to minute but it is a good outline for our family.

 photo SummerCampBinders-0056_zpsa8b4a370.jpg

This schedule is typed and in everyone’s binder.

Swenson Schedule:

8:00-8:30 up and moving (yes we will be sleeping in some this summer)

8:30-9:00 Breakfast and clean up

Cereal or easy breakfast M-Th. Friday is pancake breakfast

(As you can see I like to set the expectations for my kiddos.  Jex wants pancakes everyday, and I can’t keep up with that.  Now they know when to expect them)

9:00-11:30 Must-Do Activities until lunch(see below)

I am so flexible and there will be days to play, but these are also things to do so mom can get some things done around the house as well

9:00-9:30 morning chores, get ready for the day and one job from the job chart

job chart chores will be simple such as; wipe down table, wipe down toilets, clean mirrors, empty trash

9:30-9:50 independent reading for 20 minutes 

9:50-10:00 writing time

Write about your day, or what you just read in your book.  Tess will be drawing at this time.

10:00- 10:30 Teaching and practicing

Jex practices the piano while Stella teaches Isaac and Tessa something from their binder or the teaching bin.

I have included worksheets and age appropriate educational pages for the little ones in their binders.  This is a great time for the older kids to teach the younger kids something.

10:30-11:00 Switch teaching and practicing

11:00-11:30 extra time

choose something from the list of extra play(see below)

11:30-12:00 lunch and lunch clean up

Included in the binder is blank paper for drawing, and lined paper for writing.

 photo SummerCampBinders-0058_zpsdfc700b3.jpg

I have also included some fun worksheets for Isaac and Tessa. 

Tessa has simple pages that help with her colors, letters and numbers.

 photo SummerCampBinders-0060_zps6367b352.jpg

Isaac has more complex pages with sight words, weather charts, and crossword puzzles.

 photo SummerCampBinders-0062_zpsf0bbc8de.jpg

You can find worksheets for print here, here, here and here.

 photo SummerCampBinders-0061_zps99f0a9f1.jpg

I also typed up a list of Isaac’s sight words.  I included instructions of what he should do with these words.  That way it is very easy for the Stella and Jex to help him.

I also came up with a list of activities the kids should refer to during their extra time.

Extra Activities

Visit an educational websites (pick from this list) (create your own word art) (makes crossword puzzles (make your own comic strip)

Kindle- play an educational game on the kindle, or read a book on the kindle


Play playdough

Play outside


Play a board game with your siblings


Art project

Teach your sibling something

Email a friend or family member

Write a card or letter to family member

Do a puzzle

Work in your summer journal with your camera

And because every list of work should be rewarded, we came up with a chart and reward system.  Each child has this chart in their binder.

 photo SummerCampBinders-0057_zps69eb8202.jpg

Each item must be signed by mom each day.  Each signature is worth a point. If every child crossed off every box each day, our family could earn 1,200 points.  Our family must earn 850 points to go on our exciting family activity at the end of the summer.(to be determined.)  I am thinking Lagoon which is an amusement park in UT. 

In order for this to work the points have to be earned as a whole group.  This will encourage them to work together and help each other cross off their boxes. 

Hopefully, this will give everyone the incentive to tackle the things that need to be done. Some days we may just throw in the towel, disregard the schedule and go to the pool.  I like to be spontaneous sometimes too.

This morning schedule is to avoid boredom.  It is to avoid them asking me to watch TV all morning.  This gives them plenty of ideas of what they can do.  While they have things to do, so will I.  This will give me the time I need to accomplish a few things around home, or run to get groceries.

Once we have that done it is on to Step 2.

Step 2 is where the fun begins.  This is when we accomplish those things on our list that we WANT to do.

After lunch is when Swenson Family Camp Begins.

From 12:00 to 12:15 I will read to the kids.  This is a good time to just let them relax, and be still for a minute.  I just finished reading Harry Potter to the kids so we may read number 2.  We have also talked about Percy Jackson, or A Little House.  Box Car Children, The BFG, and Junie B Jones are some of our other favorite family re-alouds.  And yes, before you ask me; my little ones will sit still for these as well.  Even though some of these books are for an older audience, they still listen.  Kids just like to be read to.

After 12:15 Camp Activities begin.

Each week will have a theme. Each day will have a topic.

Monday: Make it Monday (make a craft)

Tuesday: take a trip Tuesday (field trip day)

Wednesday: Wet Wednesday (play with water)

Thursday: Thinking Thursday (learn about something using a book or the internet)

Friday: friend Friday (a day to have friends over)

Following the activity the kids can do whatever their hearts desire.

As I said each week will have a theme.  This is one of our weeks in July.  You will see that the activities follow the daily topic.

Building and Creating

July 15th-July 19th

Monday: build a balloon powered lego car (Make-it Monday)

Tuesday: take a trip to the local hardware store (Take-a-Trip Tuesday)

Wednesday: play with water and moon sand (Water Wednesday)

*make dad a birthday treat, Happy Birthday Dad

Thursday: We are going to look up the largest building here in the US, see how long it took to build and how much it cost. (Thinking Thursday)

Friday: Spend the weekend with our friends at Bear Lake (Friend Friday)

I have each week planned out.  By doing this I have been able to look at our whole summer and include moving dates, family reunions, weekends with friends, birthdays, and activities that the kids have been wanting to do.

Here are some of our other weekly theme ideas:

America the Beautiful





Family History


Treasure Hunters

We have activities planned for each week. Each activity will go with our theme.

We will end the summer with a Glow in the Dark end of summer party.  We plan to invite friends over for night games, treats, and glow in the dark activities.

All of this crazy information is typed up and in our binder. 

My binder includes a list of what I need to buy for activities or crafts, and what I need to prepare for each week.  This list will keep me on top of our week.

 photo SummerCampBinders-0053_zpsd988d86f.jpg

Is this summer binder intense? Maybe a little.  I can admit that.

But I always say better to be prepared.   

Most importantly, when the kids go back to school, I hope we will have crossed off a good majority of our summer camp activities.  I also hope that we accomplish our goal, and get to go on our reward activity.  I hope this plan helps me to stay more checked in this summer.  And more then anything, I hope the kids will say they had the best summer.

This binder will accomplish all that for us.

I also can’t wait to look through their binders and see finished work, stories and pictures.  This binder will serve as a summer journal of sorts. 

Will we accomplish everything on our list? Probably not.

Will there be days that we don’t do anything in our binder? Probably yes.

Will we have a great summer accomplishing some of the things we want to do, the events we have planned, and the things we need to do? I hope so.

The best part is that this binder is full ideas for moments to share together.


Andrea Worley said...

this is so great! Ava is just a year younger than tessa, i think i'll have to think of some great ideas totally inspired by this!

great job!

Lauren said...

Wow. This is an amazing post. Thank you for taking the time to share your plan for the summer. How blessed your precious children are to have such a dedicated mother. I love how your plans involve not only keeping them entertained and educated throughout the summer, but also cultivating responsibility, respect and cooperation. You are obviously putting so much thought, time and care into raising your family, and I am so grateful that you are also able to share your inspirational ideas with others through your blog. Thank you, Andrea!

Sara Smeby said...

WOW! I love the idea of the journal that your kids will have at the end of the summer. What a lot of lovely ideas and activities. Thank you so much for sharing and good luck and best wishes as you navigate your move!


Hey, I Love Your Bag! 

Mel said...

Great post! I run our summers very similar to how you run yours:)in the past I have used a calendar but I love the idea of a binder to keep it all together though!

Candice said...

Amazing! I want to come be a child at your house. So fun! You have done so much work- I thank you for that as I will copy some of your ideas!! Love it!

Vanilla and Honey said...

That sounds awesome!! I'm a teacher and lesson planning is half the battle! I always do better with a plan (I kinda think everyone does!) I have a "just turned 2-year old "and a six month old but this made me consider making some plans instead of always being in survival mode.

Related Posts with Thumbnails