Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Great Escape

School is out in our part of Florida and summertime is in full effect!
Aw, the never ending question of "what are we going to do today, mom?" is constantly buzzing in my ear every summer as we tackle the heat and humidity in search of some form of daily entertainment. The beach (check), the movies (check), watch one, no wait, ALL of your dvd's! (check) Do I even dare to mention that they should be doing some math or reading? (sometimes, check)
I have spent many summers turning on the hose, pulling out the slip-n-slide and filling up the kiddie pool. Then, watching them laugh and eat popsicles as they melt and drip down their arms.Well, those little boys of mine are getting older now and those simple treats are just not as much as they used to be.
So, here is what I have decided to do. Spend this summer differently by really getting to know my kids' interests and finding things to do that match those interests. Our theme for this summer is The Great Escape! Instead of filling time just for the sake of filling time, we are taking advantage of this time we have together by filling it with activities that enhance or educate us in subjects we are already interested in. My kids are loving this approach and I am loving not having half as much complaining.
My oldest enjoys history. So, for our first history lesson, we took a drive up to St. Augustine to really get a taste of Ponce de Leon and the fountain of youth. We read a book about his voyage before we left to add to the excitement of the journey and it turned into an experience he (and we) will never forget. We drank the water and laughed about how we didn't look any different, we headed to the spanish fort, Castillo de San Marcos, and imagined what the ships looked like to the Indians as they approached land and we actually got to tour a replica of a spanish ship from that time period which was amazing!
My middle son's requests are few but always meaningful. His request for this summer is to learn how to read better after a very frustrating school year for him....oh, and a trip to Lego Land! (There has to be something fun in there too) So, the Lego Land request will take place next month for his birthday and the reading, well, Mama will not disappoint you with just plopping you on the couch and painfully watching you struggle with the same books over and over until they get easier. Nope, not enough. I have enrolled him in a reading program at our local and fabulous museum. I take him once a week and they read a book and do some kind of activity to act out the story. I love the creativity of it all and he is being exposed not only to new books but also being encouraged to tap into his own artistic expressions of what and how he heard the story. It is so nice to see him free to express himself since he is stuck right in the middle of a bossy older sibling and a younger one that steals the show. So, it warms my heart to see him shine free of sibling competition and I love that one and a half hours of alone time with him every week.
Then, there is my youngest. Too young to really tell me what he wants and too busy to do anything too long. So, there is nothing wrong with filling up the kiddie pool, sliding around and eating popsicles with him for now until he grows into his own interests.
As for me, I am taking them to an exhibit next week which celebrates great american artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Norman Rockwell to name a few. It is just as important for them to know me as it is for me to know them and my love of the arts is what I have decided to expose them to this summer and to also visit exhibits I have wanted to see with them along for the experience.

With all of this extra time we have together in the summer, is there anything you are doing to turn and ordinary day into an extraordinary one?

Image credits: Giuseppe Arcimboldo - portrait is entitled, Spring. It depicts the image of a man's side profile comprised of spring fruits and vegetables. A style he repeated and is famous for.

In my son's reading group, we read a story about a little boy who took a colorful trip to the market to buy items that started with every letter of the alphabet and then the kids were shown two paintings by Giuseppe Arcimboldo and were given materials to create their own fruit/vegetable faces like the paintings.

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