Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer entertainment for the kids

Our family spent much of the past 2.5 weeks on the road. First, we traveled to Seattle and Washington State for 10 days, then we spent a week at a beach house on the New Jersey shore. Travel is generally good for stimulating kids. There are lots of new experiences -- from going to the top of the Space Needle (I forget how fun touristy things really can be for little kids) to beach combing on Bainbridge Island, to seeing snow on the ground at Mt. Rainier National Park in late June.

Now we're home for a bit, though, and are figuring out how to structure the days. My oldest two have been going to YMCA camp, and have liked it a lot. We're doing a lot of swimming, and are trying to load up on the books. I welcome recommendations of your favorite early chapter books that might appeal to a slightly sensitive 6-year-old boy. There's time for firefly catching at night. But we only signed up for 2 weeks of camp, so after that we'll have to figure out other things to keep them occupied. We've learned that when they're not occupied, there's a lot of whining and fighting.

How are your children spending the summer? What are they reading and what are they doing?

12 comments:

Raising a Happy Child said...

Welcome back! Our schedule is the opposite of yours - we started with a Y camp and then staying home and traveling. I really like recommendations here - http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/tag/chapter-books for chapter book selections. My daughter who is also 6 is a fluent reader and is crazy about Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. Last summer she really liked Secrets of Droon, which is probably more age-appropriate.

nicoleandmaggie said...

How sensitive are we talking here? If really sensitive, The Five Little Peppers series, and The Moffats (and a few other Eleanor Estes books), and most anything by Lois Lenski.

I guess you said slightly sensitive though, not highly. If he's just normal level sensitive, then Cam Jansens, A to Z Mysteries, Magic Treehouse... all of those are 2nd or 3rd grade reading level and 6 year old interest level. DC1 also really liked The Wizard of Oz series, though not enough to reread the ones he owns.

DC1 is reading: The Big Nate books, The Hardy Boys books, The How to Train Your Dragon books, Nausicaa manga... and a bunch of other series. He's not interested in singleton books at all. I think he's finally run out of Cam Jansens at the library. I think we're going to discourage Alphas because Wikipedia says it grows up pretty quick. He's also really into these fact book things on lego characters and on skylanders.

He plays board games and card games. He's mucking about with Scratch. He's learning the piano and doing swimming lessons and daycamp at the museum. He also does chores and is a huge help taking care of his baby sister. Oh, and he really likes playing video games on the wii more than anything.

We've been trying to get him interested in various shows that we can watch together, but with mixed success. The 1980s movies have gone over really well but the tv series not so much. He does like Dr. Who.

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

Try the Dick King Smith books (like "Freddy the Detective").

nicoleandmaggie said...

@gasstation
I LOVED the Freddy books when I was in 2nd-4th grade. My 6 year old read one politely (because I was so excited about it and he's very sweet), but was definitely not interested in getting any more. I wonder if he's just not old enough yet or if there's a generational thing. Or... a personality difference...

'Nother Barb said...

My son loved the Sideways Stories from Wayside School books. So funny.

Calee said...

What about Encyclopedia Brown? Some of the Choose Your Own adventures are great but some get really scary and Audrey's now sworn them off, so check first...

Kristi Lea said...

My 8-year old spent a week at a honest-to-goodness summer camp (complete with a 3-sided cabin in the woods, canoeing, campfires, the whole bit). Her 6-year old brother had a minor surgery that week, so both of them (plus me) got to spend the next 2 weeks hanging at home. This was the first longish summer break the 3 of us have had since my last maternity leave (6 years ago).

We went to the library several times and both kids got to sign up for their summer reading program (and both have completed one iteration of it and are working on a second round--they get points for each book or time read). We did some amount of museum-visiting. We got out some messy craft projects that we never quite have time to do normally (paint, clay, etc). One day we went to a pottery studio and painted projects (ceramic banks for the kids, a chip-n-dip plate for me). We played in the sprinkler and with water guns, watched some movies, and watched contractors build a new deck on our house. We were somewhat limited on activities because of the surgery (no pools, limited sports), but it was a lovely break.

Since then, both kids have been at a sports-type summmer camp. Not the Y (though we've done that other summers), but similar. The place has indoor sports courts and bounce houses and brings in extra events and go on field trips(yesterday was a martial arts instructor; tomorrow is roller skating).

We are trying to keep up with the library visits now that I'm back working. But mostly, this summer is about sports & recreation-type activities. After the school year filled with standardized testing and emphasis on academics and only 2 days a week of gym class, both kids are really enjoying the change.

The 8-year old is loving the Warriors series of books--they're about societies of cats in the wild. In some branches of the library, they are shelved in the kids area, and in some they're YA.

The 6-year old still just pulls random books off the shelves (bonus points for vehicle themes or super heroes). He's not the super-reader that his sister is. Yet. (He could multiply before he could read).

Anonymous said...

Does Amelia Bedelia count as a series of chapter books? Gifted kids generally have a great sense of humor. We roared at Amelia's situational comedy which appeals to everyone, male or female and young or old. Reading anything outside under a tree is awesome, if you can stand the summer heat. Also, non-fiction books are such a hit with gifted children, because the chapters are filled with fascinating facts. Happy summer reading!

Anonymous said...

I applaud all the parents here who are spending so much time with their kids and making an effort to ensure that their kids are actually doing something with their time. When I was a kid, I was ignored almost 24/7 during summer break, and if I had showed any signs of being bored or unhappy I would have been punished. Since everyone else I knew was traveling or doing other things and I had no transportation to go anywhere and no one to play with, this usually meant spending hours at a time pacing back and forth and chewing on my fingernails for lack of anything better to do. I'm so jealous of all the kids described here!

Chicago Kids said...

I have two boys (14/12) and they have been pretty busy with sport camps and doing some extra workouts in the evenings. My 14 year old will be a freshman in the fall and has been running with his high school XC team and in summer school. He is building a magic birthday party show website in his spare time and finding customers by doing magic shows for the public. He is also teaching himself HTML and Java through CodeAcademy.org.

My 12 year old loves to read Tolkien and just finished Gifted Hands, biography of neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson. He is more challenging to keep busy as he isn't so self-motivated plus he is more social than my older one. The problem is that most of his pre-teen friends are allowed to wander in our neighborhood, mostly just hanging around (not being troublesome but also not productive) and I try to discourage that except for the weekends. He spend extra time working out on agility ladders and strengthening, also looks forward to football practice every evening and will spend time on Kahn Academy or doing chores during the day.

Aside from our one week trip to North Carolina and any "day trips" we will take together that is what my kids are doing this summer.

'Nother Barb said...

My rising freshman is also doing x-country camp this summer. He didn't run in middle school, but his buddies from the gifted trig class did, and being a sociable kid he wants to be with his buddies. (Laura, is there a connection between giftedness and x-country?) So this morning with 70 degrees and 70% humidity they're spritzed with bug spray and running in the forest preserve along the river.

Earlier he did sleepaway computer camp for 2 weeks, and has spent the better part of the summer with the new 3DS Animal Crossing with his big brother and online pals.

The bro is doing workshops at Second City, fortunately he can take public transportation.

Reading? That's their procrastination tool during the school year! But in the car we're listening to "Know-It-All", AJ Jacobs story of reading the Encyclopedia Brittanica. Funny.

Laura Vanderkam said...

@Nother Barb - I'd take the 70 degrees! I've been running in 90 degree weather around here. I have to go for a bike ride after just to cool off before coming back in the house...