We are just finishing up our last two weeks of school for the year… I know it, our school spilled over a little bit into the next year but we were having such fun that it was well worth doing the extra time. I love the last couple of weeks of school because we finish up all the things that I mean to do regularly and don’t!!! Timelines get checked and I do a bit of a recap to see that the History has “stuck,” and I am always amazed at how well they remember!!! A heap of science experiments get done, since they often fall by the way!!! I remember to put on the memory cd’s in the background, why don’t I do that all the time!!! School feels somewhat lighter as books get finished and packed away…. and files get sorted and pages get checked to see that everything is done and ready to box up.
Normally at this stage in our school year I am feeling somewhat burnt out and ready for the holidays but this year we seem fresher. As the vacation appears on the horizon I am eager to start planning for next year… I think it may be the fact that we had a lot of fun things added onto our school days this year and I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I did the fun things with my kids. I didn’t reward them with the fun stuff and go and catch up on chores, I made sure I was there for the fun stuff too. Obvious I know!!! But seriously how often I have spent a morning on school that has been a lot less than fun and then in the afternoon the kids go their own way and play and I get busy with chores and odd jobs and before you know it the day is done. This year I made a conscious effort to hang alongside them and do the fun stuff with them… it was good for all of us and I am not the only one talking about school next year!!!
So here you go Se7en things that made school a bit more fun this year… Some were free, some were pricey and some were priceless. They all made our year a bit lighter and a lot more fun:
- The River Cottage CookBook: I really thought we would cover this in a couple of weeks but it is going to carry us well into next year… if you follow our blog you will know that we have totally loved this!!! This book should really be part of any school curriculum it is so packed with food knowledge: Where it comes from, how it works – not just a collection of recipes. Saying that, the recipes won’t disappoint!!!
- Word Games: Okay secret confession, I just can’t bring myself to play endless boardgames with my kids… nope I just can’t… I probably have five favorites and I just don’t need anymore… But these word games we love… seriously we play them all the time!!! Little people can make easy words, and smaller people can make gibberish and the rest of us play as it should be played!!!
- Tri-onimos: We love this game… just some quick mental math tossed in a couple of times a week.
- Artistic Pursuits: We got this to try after I saw it a friend… in the past we haven’t used art programs for school because I found them dull and prescriptive. I have always just read through our art appreciation books for school and created a project from the painting of the week. Well this program looks at a famous artwork and then a new art technique that is found in the artwork, and then there is a project that uses the technique. The projects are fun and very different each week!!! They don’t say that you have to do your project this way or that. For example, the speak of repetition and then suggest you try and draw a picture using repetition. I was a bit wary of shipping the materials across the world, but they turned out to be so great and really were worth it. I did these projects alongside my kids and they were really fun… another highlight of our week.
- We Joined the Gym: I can’t praise the gym enough, it has been life changing. I took ages to get around to joining because I had visions of the kids sitting around watching TV while I went to work-out. Well you can safely put those fears to rest… Our kids have played and played and loved it!!! They have a gym class going throughout the day… and when you arrive your kids just slot into the program… so really you can go anytime of the day… They have lots of fun games, races and obstacle courses and exercises. They also have a craft table for crafty kids to work at, and for my little glitter gal that is so fun!!! While all the kids can see each other it is divided into age groups so the big kids can be wild and crazy and the little kids are fine!!! They have a toddler room as well and it is packed with toys and a ball pool and lots of fun stuff. They have been great with my little guy even putting him down to nap when he needed one!!! The babies are held and not left to cry… if they cry they call the mom. The couches know all the kids names and because they are always there the kids get used to familiar faces. Really it has been fantastic… my kids get to try out new types of sport and activities and I get to exercise. Once or twice a week I meet up with the Father person after gym and we have coffee together before gathering up the kids – it is really great!!! And since you are all thinking this is too good to be true… I have found that local sports programs are really expensive and times that by eight and you have a nightmare… We have to have medical aid, it is a “work perk” and since our kids have never seen a doctor it is pretty ridiculous, but it does mean a cheaper membership fee for the kids at the gym. Finally a reward!!!
- The Library: I have made the effort to get to the library and let them choose their own books… Hold myself back from suggesting and let them choose… and incredibly they make good choices!!! Then because we can’t get through them all at bed time I have made sure to spend on or two afternoons “camping’ around the house and reading our way through the pile of books!!!
- The Great Outdoors: Never underestimate the great outdoors… How often the kids have dashed out to play and I have stayed in… well this year we made the effort to visit some of the great outdoor spots around here, just one afternoon a week for a quick runabout… I think this may have become our favorite time of the week!!! Having a Wild Card helped, we could visit lots of the local outdoor spots without having to go too far from home. Some weeks we didn’t get a chance to do something marvelous but we still stopped and went for a march down one of the local neighborhood walking trails… turned out to be great. Just getting outdoors with no agenda, other than to get home for dinner at the end of the afternoon, is somewhat liberating!!!
- The Kindle: A big ticket item I know!!! And does it replace books? Not at all, but I live with a crowd of voracious readers and this is a great way to pack a bookshelf that fits into my bag!!! I use this as a reward – first one finished gets the Kindle… and it is packed with books that they all want to read. You would be amazed at what is available. Firstly lots of classics are really cheap or even free in the public domain. If you browse around you can find great books for kids and not just stories there are activity books as well… Our chef has just marched his way through Nature in a Nutshell on the Kindle and when the words get tricky he puts it on speaker to hear what they are. I am all for it – it has not taken away my kids desire to read a real live fat chapter book every day of their lives!!! This is really my kids idea of a great big comic book – only they aren’t reading comics but real stuff!!! While it has been great for the kids it has been fabulous for me, it hasn’t changed my love of books but it has effected how much I read, from reading a lot I now read a whole lot more now. It is quick and easy to download a book. Every now and then I get an Amazon voucher – thank-you all our lovely readers that buy their books through our site, I really do appreciate it!!! And there are always a couple of books we are dying to download, we don’t have to wait for shipping and even better we don’t have to pay for shipping, within a minute the book is on our Kindle and ready to read.
That’s us!!! Se7en + 1 things that worked and made school that much more fun this year.