Summer History Project - A Fun Way to Engage Your Children's Minds During the Summer

Summer History Project

Summer History Project

Every May I mentally plan out all the teaching activities I am going to do over summer break to keep my son from experiencing summer brain drain. I list two or three subjects and tell myself that we are going to study throughout the summer. I don’t plan on overwhelming my son with worksheets or turning my home into some kind of torturous summer school, but I do plan to teach him throughout the summer  The operative word here is plan. Summer seems to go so fast that I always fall very short of my plans. I usually end up feeling like a failure when the first day of school rolls around. But this year is going to be different. This year we are going to do a summer history project.

The idea for a summer history project came to me the other day when I realized that I will have two vacationing students in my home this summer since my daughter is finishing up kindergarten. I wondered how I was going to have a successful anti-brain-drain summer with two kiddos when I couldn’t even do it with one. Then I realized that I am always talking to my kiddos about history since I love it so much. Could I use that somehow? I used to be a junior high school teacher and although I never got to implement one, I was intrigued by the thematic unit. For those of you who do not speak teacher, a thematic unit is the organization of a unit of learning around a central theme. Clear as mud? Basically, a teacher might lead her class through a unit on the Olympics in which she incorporates math, history, language arts, and science. It sounds complicated but it actually makes planning and implementation easier. My idea is based on the thematic unit and it allows for considerable flexibility. It will allow you to keep your kiddos learning all summer while they also have a ton of fun.

So how exactly do I plan to use this idea in my home this summer and how can you do the same? Check out my guidelines below and adjust them to fit your family.

The Summer History Project

  1. Choose a period of history to focus on. Make sure you get input from your kids on this. Since there are so many periods of history to choose from, offer your children a few suggestions to choose from. It would be wise to choose a time period that you are familiar with, unless you don’t mind doing a lot of research. We selected the Middle Ages but you can pick a narrower focus if you want to. For example, you could select WWII.
  2. Make a list of aspects of the time period that you would like to cover. Ideas include art, math, science, language arts, fashion, architecture, music, foreign language, food, politics, religion, economics, and literature.
  3. Decide if you want to teach this information to your kiddos or lead them in finding the information themselves. I suggest a mix of both.
  4. Research and organize the information you plan to use. Try googling the period of history and you will be amazed at the number of resources you will find.
  5. Schedule your history project into your summer plans. Actually writing it on the calendar can help ensure you follow through.  But do not restrict yourself to a schedule. Find teachable moments in your day-to-day life. For example, if you are studying Ancient Greece and you see a building with Corinthian columns, point it out and ask your kiddos about them.
  6. Have fun and be flexible. This is supposed to be an easy way to focus on a period of history and keep your kiddos’ minds engaged all summer. No worksheets! Plan fun learning activities.

Here is an example of how this could work. If you choose to focus on the Italian Renaissance, your kiddos could learn about Galileo for math, science, and religion; Leonardo da Vinci for science, art, and engineering; Machiavelli for politics and literature; and they could observe the beautiful art from that time period. This could be done by reading, visiting an art museum or science center, watching movies, conducting research online or at the library, and listening to music. They could use the information they learn to write a story, draw a picture, make a diorama, paint, write a song, record a video, or dress in costumes.

Summer History Project

This can be as easy or as complicated as you want it to be. I suggest that you keep it simple and fun. Maybe even plan a themed end of summer party or event to celebrate all they have learned.

What do you think?  Does this sound like fun? What period of history will your family choose?

 

About Janice

I am so glad you stopped by. Kick your shoes off and hang with me a while. I am an Arizona native, wife to a hard-working hubby, mom of two, and daughter of the King. I love sharing recipes, crafts, and family activities that any mom can do. Life is complicated enough, right? When I am not up to my ears in laundry, dishes, and creating for Celebrating Family, you will also find me at East Valley Mom Guide. Come follow me on Google +, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

Comments

  1. Debra Wagner says:

    What a wonderful Idea! I think that is the best way for children to learn is to make it fun. They wont even know they are learning while having fun! Fantastic Janice

  2. This is a great idea! We’re taking a road trip to Yellowstone National Park this summer so I think I will focus our learning on the late 1800s when the region was still very wild.

  3. What a great idea! I\\\’d love for you to link this up to Tot School Tuesday!

  4. What a great idea. I was just planning our summer learning schedule over the weekend. Might just have to change things up and do more of a themed unit instead. Thanks for the idea!

  5. Antony Norman says:

    I recently completed this unit. My students really enjoyed it! We used it throughout the month in preparation for our Sports Day event. Since the Olympics were this summer. The students really got into the subject with sharing what they experienced of the 2012 Olympics.

  6. Leilani says:

    What a great idea! I will have to try this for next summer. My girls start school in less than 2 weeks.

  7. Wittle Wood says:

    So nice. Parent – child together projects are the best bonding time. And this one is probably more fun for the parents. But the kids learn some fun information. Something else you could do together is bake a popular food dish for the time period. I have done this before and it was fun!

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  12. Mommy Pamela says:

    This is such a fabulous idea. Mine just a little one still but when he’s older and in school this would be a great tool to implement in the summer. Absolutely love it!

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