This year, my daughter Santoshi who was moving to Grade I from Kindergarten decided not to spend her summer holidays at a summer camp but rather relax and unwind at home. She was excited and I was anxious because I had no idea how to keep her occupied.
She has her usual TV shows (My Little Pony, PowerPuff Girls, Martha Speaks, etc.) but those will never do for two months of sitting at home. I saved a lot of craft pins in Pinterest but still it was hard. After what seemed to be an eternity plus one week (the school had decided to postpone reopening by a week), school reopened after summer holidays, much to my relief.
These are the main activities which kept her occupied in Summer vacation:
- Write numbers and words – Lottery method
- Visit the post office
- Splash water in the bathroom
- Craft activity – dragon egg
- Build sand castles in the beach
- Read books and learn new words
- Craft activity – Spin Drums
- Copy a picture story book
- Cycling, Walking, Playing in the Park
- Visit the bank
- Art activity – thumb print painting
- Write a journal
<This is a long post which contains links to multiple articles within this blog>
Write numbers and words – Lottery method
During the holidays, the first “activity” of the day was writing. The school had asked her to write A to Z (lower and uppercase in cursive writing) and numbers 1 to 100. Though the school required her to write them only once a week, I decided to generously supplement the holiday homework given by school. Read here to know how we chose what to write each day and how this helped her when the school reopened.
Visit the post office
Since most of our mails are paperless, the number of physical mail that we receive is abysmally low. Neither do we send snail mail out. So, a trip to the post office became more of a fun activity, rather than a necessity. We used this trip as an opportunity to learn about the auxillary services offered by the post office such as savings bank account, term deposits, pension disbursements, etc. See what we did during this trip.
Splash water in the bathroom
Summer and fun with water go hand in hand, don’t they? Since we do not have a yard for an inflatable pool or access to a kids’ swimming pool close by, we use our bathroom. Overhead shower, hand shower, health faucet, buckets filled with water (our bathroom does not have a bath tub) and shower caps to make sure that the hair does not get wet. (of course, I stay in the bathroom to supervise them, for safety reasons with the door closed behind me, we don’t want water outside the bathroom). We also agree on a time limit (say 15 to 20 minutes) in order to save water and also limit exposure to water.
Craft Activity – Dragon Egg
This was one of the first activities that we had done this Summer. Please read here about this activity.
Marina beach is a one of the few places in Chennai where access is free and entertainment is assured. Santoshi had visited the beach multiple times before, but for Anjana this was the first time. Anjana did not like the sound of the waves and the gloomy overcast sky, so she decided to build sand castles with my mother while Santoshi and I enjoyed the cool waves for at least thirty minutes. In case you are visiting Marina Beach, please be wary of the street food sold in and around the beach. Recent newspaper reports show that most of the food were stale. So, resist the temptation and carry your own snacks and water to the trip!
Learn new words from stories
This was in fact part of the school holiday homework – to read at least two new stories and write a minimum of ten new words from each story. We keep adding to Santoshi’s book collection every so often. Now that her reading ability is budding, we had bought picture story books (Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle) hoping that these pictures would help her interested in the stories and give her a context to understand the words.
Of course, Amar Chitra Katha books were too much of a stretch for her age, but with help she was able to finish two of the three stories in the books (Bhishma and Arjuna’s Secret). Tinkle was a little better in terms of easier plots and simpler words but the font size was way too small. We read a story on sparrows – about finding a place to build nests, how they build nests, etc.
While reading any story, we pause for a bit after reading a page or a section when Santoshi has to explain to us about what was happening in the book. After reading each story, we go through the story again to identify new words and mark them so that she can write them down in her notebook. Going through each story multiple times etched them in her memory.
Initially, I had thought that she might find it difficult to understand magical / supernatural powers or abilities which are a part of the epics such as Mahabharata. Thanks to Disney’s Frozen and other movies/stories which had a magical element, she was not stuck on understanding how Drona was able to use blades of grass to recover the ball or his ring from the bottom of the well or how Bhishma could choose the time of his death.
Read 1000 pages in 60 days
Santoshi had set two goals for herself:
- To walk a minimum of 1 kilometer every day and
- To read 1,000 pages before the end of the holidays
Thanks to her determination and co-operation, she achieved both these milestones. We did have a usual route that we took, which was from home to a grocery store, drink a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and walk back, picking up the little one from day care. Since it was summer, we ensured that we started walking only when it was not too hot to avoid sun stroke / dehydration. It took about 30 minutes for us to come back home – walking, order the juice and finish it and pick the baby up.
Until we pick the baby up, Santoshi and I used to take turns to list out CVC words (bat, top, mad…) and blends such as words starting with fl, cl, sh, etc. Sometimes, we will be discussing the story or the book that we had read that day and on some days it was be about “how come there are not many vehicles around 7 am but so many now?”
This is the list of books that we had read:
Craft Activity – Spin Drums
Saw this in Pinterest and it was way too cute to pass it up. So, we did make spin drums – please read this post on how we made it.
Copy a picture story book
Though reading books was the predominant pastime in our holidays, sometimes Santoshi had the urge to do something creative while I was not free to engage her in a craft activity. So, we found something which had both – copy a picture story book in her notebook. This was a Scholastic sight words book “Hop” (Book No. 2 in the set) which had pretty pictures on each page with simple sentences. This activity takes about 45 minutes. It not only gave her a great sense of accomplishment but also helped her focus on the task at hand. (Note: No copyright infringement intended)
Cycling, Walking, Playing in the Park
Santoshi has a bicycle with support wheels on either side and Anjana has a Schwinn Easy Steer Trike. We generally spend about 15 minutes cycling, picking flowers, walking and running inside the apartment play area. We also visited the park closeby where swings and slides are the major attractions. On the days we visit the park, both of them will be super tired with all the running around.
Visit the Bank
Santoshi has a coin box which gets coins and notes more or less on a regular basis. Once the box was full or near full capacity, we decided to deposit her “loot” into her bank account. Read here on our visit to the bank.
I had done thumb-print painting in school and a pin reminded me of this. Based on this pin, Santoshi did a thumb-print art. She was enthusiastic about not only thumb-printing but also adding eyes or legs to complete the picture. Once she was done with it, we had let it dry and sent it to her cousin in the USA on out visit to the post office.
Write a journal
As if the writing exercises were not enough, I encouraged (read forced) her to pen down her experiences or her activities for the day. Of course, this did not happen every day, but only days of which any ‘extraordinary’ activities. She had gone on a week-long trip with my mother to Trichy and nearby places. She had stayed in my uncle’s house for a few days and in a hotel for the rest of the time. She had written about the air travel, dragon egg activity, visits to the bank and post office. This helped her in remembering the activities, sequence of those events and describing them. In the course of the journal keeping, she learnt new words – denomination, counter, passbook, lounge, postage, etc.