Summer Must Reads: Esperanza Rising

 

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan is one of the most touching books I’ve ever read.  This tome about a young girl who goes from privilege to migrant worker after the death of her beloved father is a must read for all ages.

This is the perfect read-aloud for parents and teachers.  The author imparts a host of life lessons that can be used to start meaningful discussions with children.  The dialogue will have adults digging deep within their own hearts to take stock of personal beliefs.

Esperanza means to hope in Spanish.  The title character finds her hope as she triumphs over trials and difficulties.

If you’ve never read this book, pick it up this summer.  It is truly one of the best books in which I have ever gotten lost!

 

Sensational Summer Science: DIY: Wagon Garden

This summer take some time to explore science with your kids.  We are learning about the sun at my house.  We are experimenting with heat and light.  There are many ways to do this.  Here is just one idea.

Plant a garden.  Watch the video below to see how to plant a wagon garden.  This video was filmed with the time lapse effect and placed into iMovie.

 

 

Variations:  Use the wagon to hold pots of flowers or herbs.  Move the wagon into sunlight as needed.  Water each individual pot as needed.  Plant a fairy garden or a rock garden in a wagon.  Keep your gardening tools and supplies in the wagon as you head off to work in your flower beds or vegetable patch.

Hint:  Snapdragon flowers grow very well in a wagon garden.

Share your summer fun ideas in the comments.

Sensational Summer Science – Backyard Discovery Zone

Magnifying glasses are a fascinating scientific tool at my house.  This summer we are using playtime to learn more about the world around us.  We used magnifying glasses to explore some treasures we found around the house.  We went into the backyard to scout for new mysteries.

 

We also decided to melt candy with a magnifying glass.  We used a plastic tray and a metal tray.  We had a marshmallow, some skittles, a peppermint, and a chocolate covered almond.  The Texas sun was hot and the items on the metal tray melted faster than the items on the plastic tray with the magnifying glass.

Another engrossing activity is finding, observing, and even catching bugs.  We never get tired of the various bugs to be found in the backyard.

I have a Backyard Discovery Kit that makes playing outdoors a world of fun.

I have a Bug Catcher with a small net.

And of course Magnifying glasses.

A plastic bucket and shovel and some gardening tools.

I try to throw in new items that we can enjoy every once in awhile, hence the Sweet Basil growing kit.  I also have a new Solar Kit that will be a fun surprise.

You can make your own Backyard Discovery Kit.  Just fill it up with fun items your kids will enjoy using to ferret out all the wonders in the world around them.

Summer Must Reads

Are you looking for some great literature to read this summer.  I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite books.  The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry is one of my all time favorite books.  I read this book to my class every April around Earth Day.

There are many activities you can do with this book.  After reading the story, have your kids research one of the animals in the story on a tablet.  National Geographic Kids is a great place to start.  Check out San Diego Zoo for kids for some fascinating and easy to read information about jaguars.  For a higher reading level try Animal Fact Guide.  Go to Ranger Rick and find out how to make rain music.  Go to YouTube and search for RAINFOREST sounds for kids.  Your kids can hear what the rain forest must have sounded like when the story begins.

You can let your kids make animal masks or puppets.  They can act out the story.  You can research what is happening in rain forests around the world.  You can take a walk around your neighborhood and pick up trash.  There are endless activities you can do with this book.

I hope you love The Great Kapok Tree as much as I do.

Blasting Into Summer

Welcome to Summer!  That time of year when teachers can rejoice, recharge, rejuvenate, and renew for the upcoming school year.

I spent my first official week of summer at Camp Invention.  We built castles with flags on a pulley.  We had a joust.  We built snowball launchers (AKA slingshots).  We created targets and launched rockets.  We put together Bubble Blasters.  We truly had a blast this week!

The kids enjoyed creating and building with recyclable materials.  They thoroughly enjoyed designing and bringing their ideas to life.  Most of them didn’t seem to care when their Snowball Launchers failed.  (We didn’t have quite the right materials.)They had a blast just using their creative talents.  They couldn’t have been happier getting soaked when we launched their Bottle Rockets.  They may not remember the complete definitions of lift and trajectory, but they will always remember how far their rocket flew and how wet they were afterward.

I love Camp Invention.  There are no guided reading levels to attain.  There are no assessments to prepare for.  There are no RTI groups to facilitate.  We just had fun!  We had fun learning.  We had fun creating.  We had fun challenging ourselves to new heights.

If you, your child, your grandchild, or someone you know and love, gets a chance to participate in Camp Invention, don’t pass it up.  You will revel in an experience that makes learning and having fun synonymous in way that was always meant to be.

Each group added to the original castle constructed. The kids were all excited the next day to see how their castles had changed.
These castles formed an alliance and a treaty. These words weren’t part of our content, but we learned them anyway.

 

 

 

 

Snowball Launcher (AKA Slingshot)
Target practice!