Tuesday, May 31, 2011

First Day of Summer

Today is the first day of our summer vacation. Yay! This is definitely not a season I leave the kids to their own ends. No, that was something I learned the very first summer we tried to take a break from any kind of organized schedule and everything fell apart pretty quickly. One thing I always enjoyed as a kid was the summer reading program through the local library. My dad made sure we got involved with the program every year and read our way to some fun rewards, like Dairy Queen coupons or scratch and sniff stickers. Our local library has the kids earn coins based on how much time they spend reading. This is a hit and miss effort by my kids. They would rather be rewarded for finishing a book than try to keep track of time spent reading. It's easier for me, too! So we started our own reading program at home that we do every summer.

We call it Read to 100 and it's fairly straightforward. The kids read 100 books over the course of the summer. We put up a special number line, this year it's frogs, and they work their way to the top. I am pleased with the display this year. It's really cute. Each kid has a different colored frog to move from pad to pad. I also added some bonus prizes along the way to keep them motivated. There is a prize given every 10 books read. There is a better prize given for the 25th, 50th, and 75th book read, as represented by the dragonfly on the lily pad for that number. I also added a prize for the 67th book read just because I had an extra fly decal to use. I placed a gold frog on a lily pad after the 100th book just to represent the grand prize they will receive for reading 100 books.

The prizes are given from my treasure box that we use for homeschooling. I think this is one of the best ideas I've ever used to encourage the kids. I fill the box with toys and trinkets from the $1 Target bins or Dollar Tree or the 99 cent store. For the summer, the box is full of things to use outside or in water, with some girly things thrown in for Princess O, like lip gloss or nail polish. So every 10 books read, the kids get to shop from the treasure box. For every 25 books read, they will get to choose a special treat from McDonald's, ice cream or a shake, something like that. For reading 100 books, they get $20, a fortune to them!

So we kicked off Read to 100 today. Of course, the kids grabbed easy books to read right away. I make them keep track of what they've read in a journal where they list the title, author, and a short sentence about why they liked or didn't like the book. Another bonus of summer is the 2:00pm quiet hour. Usually this is when we are getting home from swimming or playing at the park and it's a natural time for everyone to chill out and read for little while. Quiet time is my favorite time of the day and one thing I look forward to in summer!

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