Archive | Summer

Summer Reading

One of our goals this summer is to get lots of reading done. I’m trying my best to keep it fun so that the kids will keep reading. Here are a few tips to help you make your summer reading more enjoyable.

1. A place to read.

My favorite thing to do to make reading fun is to read in different places.  Some places we love to read are:  in the reading tent, in a fort, outside, in the car, on the deck, on the floor, with tons of pillows, and soon we will try in a dark closet with flashlights!  The possibilities are endless!

2. Schedule your reading time. (Be consistent!)
I find that if we put reading time into our daily routine, it is more likely to get done.  My favorite time of day to read to my kids is right after lunch.  We enjoy some quiet time with a good story.  It is something that my kids look forward to. 

3. A chart to mark or record what you’ve read. 

I love looking back and seeing all that we have accomplished.  This year I printed off these charts so that we can see how many books we read during the summer.  My goal is to fill up this entire page of chapter books that I have read aloud to my kids.  My kids will write those books down on their lists too, but they also have books to write down that they have read on their own.

4. Have a designated library day. (Be consistent!)

Committing to a certain time and day to go to the library makes it a lot easier to actually make it there.  I really like to meet friends at the library, so I’m even more regular.  My local library has a story time for younger kids and a story time for older kids at the same time, on different sides of the library.  Unfortunately, my almost 11 year old thinks that she is too old to do the “older” story time with the 1st graders (and up).  But she still found some books and enjoyed some reading time.

5. Activities that go along with your books.

Doing activities, crafts, and games that correlate with books you read reinforces reading comprehension.  Back in March I found a blog that posted lots of activities to go along with certain childrens books.  Just looking at all of the ideas at Helping Little Hands just gets the wheels in my head turning.

For my older kids, I love fun book reports, rating books, and watching movies of books we’ve read to see if there are any differences between the book and the movie.

We have already read one chapter book together, so we are well on our way to a summer full of reading fun!

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Take a Hike

Our favorite thing to do in the summer is go hiking!
You can find tons of resources online about hikes in your area.
(For example, if you go to, you can type in your zip code and get all kinds of information.)
Last summer we bought a Kelty child carrier, and we have really enjoyed it!
We also each have a CamelBak backpack that we love.
You know, each hike is twice as fun if you have good snacks.
We always take granola bars, fruit snacks, etc.
We also love trail mix.
I have a hard time buying trail mix because I usually end up picking things out.
(I’m a simple peanut, raisin, and M&M kind of girl.)  
But I found this recipe that looks awesome.  I might try it next time!

Other things we love to do in the summer include:
*Going to the Zoo
*Having a campfire
*Roasting hot dogs, marshmallows, or Starbursts in the campfire
*Laying on a blanket on the grass to see the stars or clouds
*Dutch Oven Cooking
Hope you have a fabulous summer with your family!
P.S.  If you are looking for ideas, I LOVE the Family Fun website!
It has TONS of ideas of crafts, games, recipes and more.
(Thanks to Emily who introduced me to it!)

Family Reunion Ideas

Our family is BIG on family reunions.  We have always had them, before I was born, until now, and still going.  We have big extended reunions, but we also do our immediate family reunion too.  Since I am in charge of the immediate family reunion this year, I thought I would share a few tips and suggestions.

How to Plan a Family Reunion

• If your family is BIG, plan it, put in on the calendar and take as many people as can come.  If you try to wait until EVERYONE can come, you might be waiting a long time.

• Plan in advance.  I booked a cabin last fall for our family to enjoy this summer.  Good places schedule up fast, especially on holiday weekends.

• Be organized.  Organize the meals (meal assignments), organize activities, and organize games.  Having a plan (but still being flexible) is very helpful.

How to Make Your Family Reunion Fun

1. Activities as a family

Birthday Bash – It has become our tradition to have a big birthday bash at our reunion every year.  We celebrate everyones birthday’s at once.  We do a gift exchange and enjoy cake and ice cream.

Water games – Whether it is swimming, sliding, water balloons, a lake, a river, or a pool, we seem to always find some water to play in.

Parks – Last year, we found these teeter-totters at a nearby park.  Everyone got in on the action and it ended up being one of the highlights of the reunion.  We laughed and laughed.

Horse Ride  – When we are close to home, we enjoy adding a horse back ride into our activities.

Scavenger Hunt – Work as teams (mixed of both adults and kids) to get to the prize.  My favorite activity like this we have done is when Mark and Natalie planned an amazing race.  We had to go to certain locations and take pictures (proof we were there!)  One of the stops on the amazing race was getting a milkshake and eating it.  Tons of fun for everyone.

Family Pictures Video – Several year ago I started making “slide show” type movies to watch at each reunion.  I use pictures collected from everyone of all the events within the last year.  Most years, after watching the new video, we watch the old ones too!  The kids love this.  It reminds me of when my dad used to pull out the slides and we would laugh for hours.

Service Projects – Emily planned a service project for our family last year.  We all went to a rest home and did some musical numbers for them to enjoy.  We played the piano, sang, and played some bells.  The old people loved it and hoped we would come back again.

2. Activities for the kids

Story time – Last year, Emily assigned each of us mom’s to tell a story to the kids each night.  (About 2 stories per night.)  These can be favorite stories, family stories, “when I was young” stories, scripture stories, or made up stories.  The kids will love it.

Crafts – My kids love anything to do with paper, scissors, glue, and tape.  This year I am thinking about decorating T-shirts.

Boys/Girls time – One year, we had the girls make jewelry while the boys went bowling.  Girls love doing crafts, but the boys might enjoy a hike better.

3. Activities for the adults

Game night – After the kids go to bed, us adults love to pull out the games.  Sometimes it’s games that we can play all together, and sometimes we have a few games going at once. We grew up playing cards, so that is what we enjoy playing the most.  A new favorite is Wackee Six.

Question game – Visiting with each other is fun, but sometimes a few questions help get the ball rolling. Last year, Emily had questions that we all drew out of a hat and had to answer.  Some were serious, like where do you see you and your family in the next 5 years?  Some were more funny, like what is a funny memory you have from your childhood?  I think we could visit all night very easily, if our spouses would let us.  🙂

4. Document your family reunions

Take lots of pictures.  My kids love looking back at the things we have done together.  It is also fun to note the location, who was in charge, the activities you did, etc…

Planning a family reunion is a lot of work, but the memories that we make with our families will stay with us forever.  It will be time well spent, I promise.

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