[private]It’s summer time. For students attending private schools on the Bay Islands that follow the US system, that means vacation. But one thing they should never take a vacation from is learning. Here are five suggestions for turning an ordinary summer into an extraordinary learning experience.
Keep reading at the top of your priority list. Substantial research shows children who read during the summer maintain and strengthen their literacy skills. Those who don’t fall behind. Reading aloud to children appears to be the single most influential activity for building knowledge and the skills needed for reading success.
Creating activities around reading is easy. Small groups of students can form a reading circle to meet to talk about stories, with each student having a specific role. For new or young readers, an adult will read to/lead the group. This is a great activity that allows children to make new friends and reinforce positive behavior as well as build reading skills. Books can be found throughout the Island, including Sand Castle Library in Sandy Bay, your school library and the French Harbour Library.
Another way to keep students occupied this summer is to create a pretend passport. This can be a fun activity that can help a child improve communication skills while learning about geography, history and other cultures and places. The Bay Islands have an amazingly rich culture and delightful places that typically only tourists visit. Be a tourist on your Island. Encourage students to take their passports everywhere and ask for a stamp or a signature whenever they visit a new location, whether a store, a relative’s house or a tourist attraction. By the end of the summer, the passports should be filled, and students should have an array of stories they can share.
For another extraordinary experience, consider creating a themed scavenger hunt that incorporates all three learning styles: auditory, visual and kinesthetic/tactile. Themes can include anything from pirates, nature, the elements or whatever. This can help build confidence and allow students to learn from each other and develop their searching skills, among other benefits. Make a list of 15-25 things that can be found in the immediate area, for example: something round, something sticky, different kinds of seeds, litter, something you think is beautiful or something that makes noise. The hunt could be timed, or it could be played over a number of days. It can be done in teams or as individuals. The possibilities are limitless, and everyone can be a winner.
One thing the Bay Islands have plenty of is sand. Despite the sandflies that lurk in it, sand can be incredible fun, letting the artist inside every kid emerge, without the mess of paint or markers. Make colored sand with salt and powdered drink mix or food coloring, using old mayonnaise bottles or ice cream containers as mixing bowls. Mix the coloring agents with the sand, add some salt and a little water (not too much; you don’t want it to look like a drink with sand in it) and let it dry in the sun or in an oven. The flatter the surface you use to dry the sand the better. Then use the colored sand to make sand paintings. According to Nickelodeon Parent magazine, “Even children with no inherent artistic talent can use art as a means to increase their intellectual capacity to observe and express.” Have students create 2-D drawings, then add colored sand to decorate. Create a contest. Take photos, ask students to tell stories about their work and give lots of positive feedback.
Being a kid should be fun. So should learning. Whatever activities you organize for your students, make sure there are incentives that reinforce positive behaviors. Rewarding children with a favorite food or activity is extremely effective. Please share your ideas that work, and we look forward to hearing about your extraordinary summer.[/private]
(Catherine Flowers is filling in for George Crimmin)