Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Summertime Learning Fun

Summertime Learning Fun happens when you spend some time together, exploring our world and answering all those questions that come up.  Like what's that Noise?  

If your children are anything like mine, and I'm sure they are, summertime means adventures.  It means spending a lot of time outdoors.  It means looking for things to do and exploring.  It means turning off the TV or computer games and getting back to nature in the great outdoors.  It could mean swimming every day, or going to the park, or camping.  Where ever you go, there is something to learn about!  

silhouette of people walking on a dock

What else can you do?

Summertime opens up a whole new world for our children to learn.  While the kids are looking to 
relax and have fun, they are also looking for something that catches their imaginations or their need to know about their world.  To that end, most families will be spending some very special together time while on holidays. No baseball games, soccer practices, dance classes or other interruptions, just good old family time.     

frog in the water

Learning takes on a whole new meaning when summertime rolls around.  No "textbooks" and no real "agenda" means that learning is done on a whatever crosses my path and intrigues me basis. That can even happen at home too!  As I am writing, I can hear the toads singing in my pond. I need to learn more about them, so when my grandchildren come to visit, I can tell them some things that I'm sure they don't know.

Be Prepared!  

As parents who prepare to take our children on hikes and overnight camping trips, we need to be ready to answer questions that are sure to pop up.  Like "What's that noise?"  Even a trip to the zoo can be filled with questions that need answers.  Be prepared to either answer the questions or make note of the questions and when you are home again, look up the answers  together, so that both you and your child will  have learnt something new and you will have done it together.  This is what makes family memories.  We still laugh at some of the things that happened when we went places with our children. Now they are doing the same thing with their children and telling stories about when they were younger.  It's time to pass on family history as well as having time to enjoy nature.

seagulls standing on rocks
Playing games with the kids can be so much fun too. We would take ours camping and find that the welcome station had many printouts for educational purposes. We would make the most out of these "handouts". One camping trip, they had a print out of all the birds that nested in the area, with hints for the kids. We would go on hikes and try to spot nesting areas and then spotting the birds too. There were print outs of the different trees and their leaves. We made a collection and even did bark rubbings. Have you ever stopped and looked at all the different types of bark on trees? It is fascinating! When the kids found what they were looking for, they would take a picture to go along with their leaves and bark rubbings, carefully noting the type of tree and all the nuances of it's growth. So much to learn, just from a tree! Birds and reptiles, amphibians and mammals of the area were all duly recorded. If we needed to learn more, a note was made in our notebook to look it up when we got back home. The kids loved their nature hikes, because it wasn't just walking through the woods, it was stopping and seeing what made up those woods. The trees, birds, bugs, flowers and everything that was in our path, was food for our "Discovery Book".

free campgrounds guide book Guide to Free Campgrounds: Includes Campgrounds $12 and Under in the United States (Don Wright's Guide to Free Campgrounds)

So What Can you Do to Prepare for a great Outdoor Adventure?

Well first and foremost, check out the link above, to find some low cost campgrounds. It's a great way to pinpoint where your family will spend some quality time together, without breaking the bank.
people on a boat in very smooth water
This guide will help you look for a place that has some great outdoor adventures, be it hiking in the mountains, camping by a lake, or visiting a beach somewhere new. Go with the eye of an adventurer. Take along a "Discovery Book" a journal where you can make notes, tuck in leaves or flowers, keep a daily diary of what you saw, whether it was birds, bugs, beetles or trees. Answer the questions that you know the answers to and make a note to find the answers to those questions that you don't know the answers to. When you are finished your holiday, you will have a great little diary on what everyone saw and learnt about during your time in the great outdoors.

travel journelMy Travel Journal

Above all, be ready to have some fun, make some memories and enjoy each others company in the great, beautiful and special outdoors.  Happy Summer Everyone!

Pictures courtesy of Pixaby, free stock photos. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. I grew up in a very large family with a house full of kids aka walking encyclopedias that were daily adding pages between their covers. There was something always going on, especially once my older siblings started driving. I have no idea how my parents maintained their sanity. Vacations were always very interesting. Whether we were at the beach, traipsing through the woods, or lazily floating in a boat down a river while fishing, it seemed like the world was just waiting for our discovery. We were very blessed to have parents who were willing to answer questions. To this day, I still depend on my mom to identify trees. Both of my parents can identify crops in the field from a distance and my dad can identify cow breeds, which I always found rather interesting. Who would have guessed that I would want to know the difference in an Angus, a Hereford, and a Jersey cow. Even now, I think it is kinda funny that I know their names. After all, I don't plan on raising cows anytime soon. But children do learn when their parents are simply talking while walking through life with them. Betcha Dad could tell you all about your toads too Olivia! Parents really should take the time to explore and teach. I remember what my parents and grandparents taught me and I don't even remember my school teachers names. There is a time and place for both, but parents have the greatest impact.

    1. So TRUE! We always camped with out kids and my husband would always try something new. One year he built a rock oven and baked the kids some Chelsea Buns, they were almost finished baking, when one rock exploded. The kids to this day laugh about the grit that they had to pick out of their dessert. But we learnt how to look for rocks that would be good for an outdoor oven in the process. Now our children take their children and tell stories about when they went camping. The grandchildren look at us and ask if it's true. We just smile and tell them YES that did happen.....

  2. Working to develop a mindset in our kiddos of always questioning, always learning is so very important. I'm happy to have two lifelong learners, at least partly because of my habit of making an object lesson out of just about anything. I love your emphasis, too, on using summer activities as an impetus for passing along family stories and history. Carrying on that tradition with our future grand-kiddos is something I'm really looking forward to.

    1. We loved our camping trips and sitting around the campfires just retelling whatever happened on our hikes that day. It's amazing how the kids interpreted their findings along our hikes. We would turn over rocks and one would be amazed at the animals scurrying away, while the other was horrified that we disturbed

  3. Interesting article as this summer has turned into a learning time for me and a grandson. It's been 20+ years since my 'kids' grew up and years of them visiting me or me visiting their homes to see the grandchildren growing up. THIS summer I went to see a daughter in St. Louis, then a son in Iowa. Decided during the visit to bring my 14-year-old grandson home with me to the Georgia coast for 3 weeks of grandma-time, beach-time, fun-time. I've been showing him the sights, plus plenty of beach-time, and telling him stories of things we did when his folks visited here before he was born. He's fascinated, as he's not heard these stories before and now he's getting to see the same things his parents saw and learned before him. We never stop learning, whether kid or grown-up, and besides being educational, learning can be great fun!

    1. Oh how wonderful for you and for him. He will have a whole new outlook on things that his parents talk about now. That's great that you get to bond with him too. He will always talk about the summer he spent with his Gran and I bet it will be with great joy too! Have fun!

  4. I love this approach to education. I used it a lot when I was home schooling. We had a lot more time for exploring the outdoors together. We approached geography much the same way. I still have the huge scrapbooks the children made from our trip to Massachusetts and back. We drove both ways, visiting as many national parks, historical places, and state capitals as we could along the way. My daughter's assignment was to note all the important physical landmarks we passed -- rivers, mountains, lakes, major cities, and types of industry or agriculture in each state. This was to keep her looking out the window instead of writing to her boyfriend or reading the entire time. My son sat in front with me with the triptik and helped navigate. During our frequent trips to Seattle on I-5, he also noted on the triptik where we found the best gas prices, the gas stations with microwaves, and other useful information. We didn't have the electronic aids then we have now.

    My son was naturally curious and didn't need to write down landmarks. We'd talk about them as we drove. My daughter wasn't interested in looking out the windows, and I didn't want her to miss the opportunity of a lifetime to see her country from coast to coast. When we got home, both children mapped out the journey in the scrapbooks, drawing and labeling cities, rivers, mountain ranges, etc. My daughter wrote a summary of the important things about each state. They filed their photos by state and labeled them. I wanted my children to be able to visualize the places they were sure to read about in books later on. I edited the travel journal Sarah wrote, printed it out, and gave a copy to each child for the front of the scrapbook. I also put a copy in mine.

    Children definitely learn more by doing and following their natural curiosity than by listening to lectures and reading in a classroom. The approach of collecting interestings souvenirs from nature and writing down questions to be looked up in books or online is best. When children are finding the answers to their own questions they will remember them longer and the learning by experience will stick.

    1. Oh Barbara you are so right, our children would enjoy looking and seeing what was around them. we would take them to camps where there were hyroglyphics on the outcroppings that had been there for hundreds of years. They were probably done by the Indians that lived on the land before we came to be there. My husband would teach them water safety, how to right a canoe, and all those hands on things that you just never would learn in a classroom anywhere. What a great job you did, teaching your children. I bet they know more than the average student by a long shot. Thank you for your comments.

  5. One of my stepsons is a master at teaching via exploring adventures outdoors. His kids are always learning this way. There's no better way to learn that to 'do'. When our boys were little and my stepkids younger we did quite a bit as well. Our weekends were pretty much always full. Miss those days.


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