Sunday, June 10, 2012

Update on the Loosli Learning Adventures Camp

I have to say I'm quite pleased with our Learning Adventures Camp this year. We've been going for a couple weeks now and the kids are really getting into the summer routine nicely.

Here's our summer camp binder. Inside, there's a chart where the kids check off their "must-do's" for each day (they're supposed to do six things a day - reading, writing, working on a goal, physical activity, household jobs and doing one "extra" activity they can choose from a list of learning/growing activities). There's also a list of everything the things they can choose from to accomplish each of those six things. 

It did take a few days to get everyone into the routine, but since they helped form the program, they were pretty bought-in and they seem to really like this whole "camp" routine. They can do their "must-do's" in the order they choose but they have to do them right after breakfast and their "must-do's" need to be done before they can do anything else for the day (well, sometimes we switch things around because we've got a field trip or a special activity in the morning and the kids do their must-do's in the afternoon...)

A week or so ago, we went on a trip to St George for a week (to enjoy a Power of Moms planning weekend with April and her family, see old friends, and get our house ready for the renters - yeah! we finally found some great renters!). I was really happy to see that all the "must-do's" were pretty darn portable. The kids each brought a book and the composition book where they're doing all their summer writing. I brought the binder. We did lots of swimming and biking and tennis on our trip which helped the kids towards some of their summer goals so it was easy for them to accomplish their goal-work point each day as well as their physical activity point each day.

Most days, the kids just get up and get going on their must-do's without me reminding them much which is heavenly. And I'm getting Power of Moms work done while they get useful stuff of their own done. Plus  we're also having SO much fun with our "weekly adventures" (explained below).

We've promised the kids a trip to Lagoon (an amusement park near us) when they reach a collective total of 440 points (they can each get 30 a week so if they get a perfect score, in one week, the 5 kids can get 150 points. In three weeks they can earn 450 but there's some wiggle room there by setting the goal at 440 so a few points can be missed here and there). I'm loving seeing the kids encourage each other along so that they can reach their much-anticipated goal together.

Here's Liza helping Oliver with his writing. Eliza's the best at her must-do's, I've got to say. She's so into this.
Here's a page from Silas's summer writing book. We have all these writing prompts kids can choose from or they can just write about what they've been doing or write a descriptive paragraph about a family member or a place. I love having them just pour out their thoughts on paper, no worries about spelling or punctuation. We'll worry about that stuff later. This summer I just want them to learn to enjoy capturing their thoughts on paper.
The kids are all becoming such good readers (and it hasn't been an easy road for some of them). And I love how reading is so nice and portable. We did a lot of our reading by the pool when we were in St George. I love reading with my kids and having mini read-a-thons. I want them to see me reading as well as see me telling them to read.

For their "extra" point one day, Eliza and the twins put together a great rendition of a favorite song - Eliza on vocals, Oliver playing the "cymbals" (a metal chair) and Silas playing the "drums" a trash can. Love how creative they get...

The house is staying quite clean (and the kids are really liking the new system of everyone doing 2 5-minute cleaning tasks each day from my long list of bite-sized tasks instead of doing big jobs on Saturdays). I'm not sure if they always look THIS happy about cleaning. But this new method involves a lot of quick wins instead of long drawn-out 1/2 done jobs and lots of complaining.

While we were in St George, the kids accomplished their physical points with lots of swimming (along with lots of dear friends). We've done some good hikes in Ogden and in St George. Several days, the twins have done their "physical" point by going with me on my 3-mile runs (they ride their scooters and I have to keep up a pretty good clip!) and the big kids have gone running with their dad or have gone on bike rides. One rainy day, they ran up and down the stairs a bunch of times to loud music. I really want my kids to grow up thinking exercise is a wonderful, fun part of every day.

the wildflowers in the mountains 5 minutes from our house are so pretty right now

we hiked to this beautiful waterfall

In addition to their "must-do's" each day, we've got a weekly schedule of fun adventures that give a little shape to our brainstormed "bucket list" of activities we all want to do this summer. We've got "Make-it-Monday" where we do creative building and art projects, "Take-a-Trip Tuesday" where we go on field trips, "Wet Wednesday" where we do sprinklers or swimming or that sort of thing, "Thinking Thursday" where we learn about something new that we've been wondering about via YouTube or Wikipedia or a field trip, then we do "Friend Friday" where we get together with friends (and sometimes we have friends join us for other adventures...).

Here we are at Great Harvest learning all about how bread is made. The huge machines were fascinating and the big hunk of hot bread they gave us at the end wasn't half bad. Free.
Below - Here we are at the Sweets Factory in SLC with some good friends. Again, super interesting machines and tasty samples (the kids said they'd take the candy over the bread but I'd for sure take that bread over the candy...). You've heard "excited as a kid in a candy store"? Well, I found out that "excited as a kid in a candy FACTORY" is a whole new level of super excitement. Again - free. (For a great list factory tours in the USA, click HERE.)

The hair nets made us all look beautiful, huh?

We headed to the new City Creek Mall for one Take-A-Trip Tuesday and had a great time exploring downtown SLC. Free, fun, easy.

One very rainy Tuesday, we did our "take-a-trip Tuesday" we "traveled" to Thailand and to France. My friend had a great blog post all about her recent trip to Thailand and that combined with the Thai food we've been making so much lately (see recipe in my last post) made for a fun afternoon of finding answers to our questions about Thailand (and swimming with elephants is now on my kids' lifetime bucket list...). Then we "went" to France by reading my mom's post about her recent time in Paris with my dad and sister Saydi and family (they're living in London) and asking and finding answers to the questions that arose. We learned all about the way Notre Dame was built and explored the Pompidou Center's modern art and had a french crepes for dinner. Plus my brother send me a link to the trailer for the new movie of Les Miserables and that prompted me to tell the kids the whole classic story of the book to the kids as a bedtime story (a very long one that had to be broken up into two parts - they LOVED the story and I loved remembering it as I told it - what lessons about justice and mercy and goodness and second chances...).

I love teaching my kids and being with them. Sure, there are times they're excited about showing me something when I'm busy with something else and it's frustrating for both parties - and there are times I'd really like to have a little more quiet and personal space. Yes, there are surly, less-than-excited moments from a certain pre-teen (but actually, things are a lot better there lately...). Yep, there are times when plans don't turn out right and everyone's disappointed (but flexible plans sure minimize a lot of that). And sure, there are squabbles (today Silas came to me crying that Oliver had attacked him and jumped on his back. Oliver responded, "well, Silas attacked my FEELINGS and that's just as bad!"). But all in all, I'm loving this summer so much.

So anyway, there's my report so far. We are having a really really great summer. Sure there are squabbles and hard moments. But really, things are turning out quite beautifully so far.

After putting all this "summer camp program" together for my own family, I figured I might as well "gussy it up" a bit more and offer it to the whole Power of Moms community (and YOU, my blog readers, of course). If you want all the materials you need to get your own Learning Adventures Camp set up, check out the info HERE.


Rachelle said...

Thanks for the shout out! So glad you guys enjoyed Thailand!

katie said...

Hi, I found your blog today after reading one of Shawni's posts about summer goals. My question for you is when did you start doing this with your kids? I have a 5 year old, a 2 year old and a newborn and sometimes I feel like these ideas work out better when they are a little older and able to do them together, but I don't want the 5 year old to miss out while waiting for the others to grow up. I mean by this summer 2013 my oldest will certainly be able to journal and have reading time, she already does chores, etc... but what about the younger ones. Did you do this when your kids were younger and then just have modified "must do" activities? We already had a "summer schedule" and a "summer list" similar to your days of the week activities and field trips which was wonderful this year. So I am more concerned with at what age you started your "goals" and "must dos". Thanks!! Love your ideas!

Laura Lynn said...

Thanks so much for sharing your summer planning! This is just what I've been trying to come up with for the past couple years, but couldn't quite figure out how. I just purchased your kit from the Power of Moms website and set up my own Summer Adventure for my family. The kids are excited to get started tomorrow! I have a practical question - I read in one of the articles a suggestion to put the papers in sheet protectors and use a dry erase marker to mark things off, tally points, etc. That's a great idea, except when I tried it and then closed the binder, the ink got all smeared! Is this how you do it or do you print out a new sheet each week? Any advice? Thanks!!

Angie said...

For Katie...I think you should do what you feel like your children are ready and capable for. Just take the existing program and adapt it for your family. If your 5yo is old enough and ready to do 6 Must Dos each day, have her do those. But she's probably more capable of doing 3-5 Must Dos. But maybe the 2yo just has 2 or 3 Must Dos.
Instead of reading independently, you can read to them and have that count. Instead of them doing house work, you can help them make their bed or let them "help" you load/unload the laundry or dishwasher. My 2yo LOVES to play in the kitchen sink to "help" me while I make dinner. But I sure wouldn't let my 7yo get away with that for housework!
Coloring or drawing can count as a writing exercise. You can also have them dictate a story to you that you write down, or an email to Gma.
Your 5yo might be old enough for a flexible goal. It would probably be something that she just wants to do/learn (ride a bike, read a book, count to 100, etc). You could just give your 2yo a goal that you 10-15 minutes of reading each day, counting to 10, recognizing relatives faces by their pictures, building a tower, etc.
Good luck with adapting this for your family!

Angie said...

Katie--You can totally adapt this program for younger kids! Just consider what your kids can do (2-6 Must Dos) and help them work on their stuff. Most likely, you'll be holding their hands through their Must Dos. They aren't old enough to really do much of them on their own. Also, they will probably do better with a smaller and more immediate reward (weekly...or this is what they have to do before they can watch TV daily) than a bigger reward farther down the road.

Examples how you can taylor the Must Dos for the little ones.
Read to them
Coloring and drawing count as writing. They can also dictate stories to you (or they are telling you a story and you fish for a pen and paper to write it down as they say it).
Housework may be "help" work. Have them help with switching laundry, pushing buttons on the dryer or washer, playing in the kitchen sink as they "help" you make dinner (2yo favorite), get the mail. For the 5yo, it may be self care type of stuff...make own bed, keep room clean, pick up toys.
Goals can be made by you...although your 5yo probably has something she wants to be better at (mine wants to ride her bike). You can pick things like recognize A-Z, count to 100, run all the way around the block, swing on the swingset on their own, learn how to swim. 2yo...count to 10, play safely in the yard, recognize relatives by their photos, etc.
Good luck! I hope this helps!!

Shonda said...

I am so excited to have found this program. I have a 3 and 5 year old and even though I am homeschooling, I really like this plan and I can use it for homeschool as well as for summer. Saren, you are a great organizer and I appreciate all your hard effort. Your kids are blessed to have you. They look like they are having so much fun. I will start with a modified summer camp since I have little ones, but as I establish it, I can see it grow to what you are doing.


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