I never had much to say about this as a kid. As I remember, my summers were filled with chore charts, work and more work. I felt like I never "did" anything. What I meant was, we didn't go on a fancy vacation to Club Med like the cool kids did.
What I didn't realize was that all the little things I "did on vacation" were the things that I would still talk about today.
So here's my list of what I would recommend for students on summer vacation. These small activities do include practicing school skills, but more importantly they are making a connections with people and their environment.
1. Reread a childhood favorite. I reread "A Wrinkle in Time" every summer. Every time I would notice something new. By reading something easy, I allowed my mind time to wander and get lost in imagination. There was no need to push myself to read novels years beyond my level. I think it is
2. Write a letter. Ok, I admit it. As an adult, I still check the mailbox with the hope that I will find something with a handwritten address on the front - something that doesn't have a little plastic window or ink that rubs off on my hands. A letter is a true connection to another person. Not only did they take the time to gather the materials, write the letter and get it sent in the mail, but it is in their own writing. That's so much more personal. Sometimes the only way to receive a letter is to write one. I'd encourage kids to reach out to cousins or friends that have moved. Write to a movie star and see if they write back, or find a pen pal from another country. (figuring out airmail was another level of effort!)
3. Help someone. This doesn't need to be a huge to do. Although it would be nice to start a clothing drive or collect canned foods or work at the soup kitchen, not everyone has the adult support that would be needed to take on these bigger projects. It can be something small. Mow the lawn without being asked, take out the trash, put out food for the birds, help a sibling complete a craft. What it is doesn't matter. It matters that you are doing something from your heart in order to connect.
4. Make a family recipe together. Cooking is such an amazing opportunity to both learn and connect. Hey - my kids learn about letters from cooking "q" for quesadillas. If it's good enough for day care, it's good enough for all of us. Yes, there's the obvious. Cooking takes math and following directions, but it also allows for family stories, discussion of culture, discussion of nutrition, and just plain having fun together. The results are yummy too.
5. Explore a passion. This year I was lucky enough to try genius hour with my students. They had an amazing time exploring ideas and projects simply for the learning journey. I would hope that they would continue this into the summer and perhaps even make a family event out of it. Summer is a time to explore and try new things.
I have more ideas, and none of them are "Complete a packet of worksheets," "Write a report on what you did this summer, " or "Do a book report." I've noticed over the years my best students are the ones who have experiences with which they can connect to the curriculum during the year. They aren't smarter than anyone else, but they can connect the new learning to what they already know. It's time for kids to get out, get moving, and experience all that summer has to offer.