End of Summer School Celebration Day!

school's out logo

So we got here; we are all still happy, alive and I truly think better off for having embarked on yet another year of summer school. I think the majority of folks are floored when I go through my curriculum with them and lay out what Tracy Summer School looks like. However, for us, it works. In fact, it works really well. I find, for me personally, that it’s too easy to get distracted when at home with all three of them-there’s always bills to pay, errands to run, calls to make. And they are SO good at keeping each other busy and playing that I often don’t even hear from that. Yes, you heard me right. So then WHY people ask, would you not just let them do their own thing all summer long? Honestly, I miss them. They are at school during the year, in sports now and have super awesome social lives.  On the weekends, we are one busy family. If summer escaped me and I hadn’t spent any really quality time with them, it would make me sad. I know, I know. Sap. But it’s true, in no time, they will be off on their own life journeys and the last thing they are going to want to do is summer school with mom 😛 AAANND, right now, they LOVE school. They LOVE to learn. So why not capitalize on that feeling RIGHT NOW! So that’s it in a nutshell. Yes, it is a ton of work to prepare. Yes, there are moments when I’m not at my best during the month of school. But no, I wouldn’t change the time we have together during school for anything.

And what does every end of school moment deserve? A celebration! So off we went to our local amusement park, Cliffs for the day! And we had some serious fun. My oldest even rode (twice!) the fastest, largest roller coaster in New Mexico (not that that’s saying a whole lot but I do think it’s one of the top 10 fastest in the world). And boy was he proud of himself!



photo-125But of course, it’s the beginning of monsoon season here in NM so we ended out day like this. Good thing we were done anyway-lol! The boys did have a BLAST running through this to the car.


I’m already excited for next year’s Summer School!! Woo-hoo!



Z for Zookeeper!

z is for zookeepersWell folks, this is it-the final lesson of Summer School 2013!  Last year we did Z for Zoo so this year I wanted to concentrate a bit more on a Zookeeper’s role.

After morning circle, we read Z is for Zookeeper (Smith), a similar book to A is for Art History. Can be a quick read or you can read the side passages on each page if time allows. As always, beautiful pictures!

Z for Zookeeper Book

Then it was time for worksheets so we could head out to the zoo!

Z for Zoo Worksheets 1


I was able to find a great Zookeeper packet on TPT and as it serviced two age groups, it was well worth the $5 download price (http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Zoo-Animal-Inquiry-Pack-246999).

Z for Zookeeper Worksheets 2


Z for Zookeeper Lucas Worksheets

We rushed in a quick snack of animal crackers (Barbara’s bakery makes YUMMY organic animal crackers in assorted flavors).

If we had allocated more time for snack-here is a photo roundup of some amazing ZOO snack ideas I would have loved to create.

Z for Zookeeper Snack CollageAnd if we had time for some crafts, these would have been some simple but colorful ideas!

Z for Zookeeper Art Ideas Collage

We headed off to the zoo after snack with a packed lunch, tons of energy and a desire to see every animal possible! 🙂







The Zoo never ceases to amaze me!


Y for YES Day!

Y is for Yes Day

Well, the title of this post pretty much speaks for itself! An old friend of mine had a YES Day! with her crew and I thought, what a wonderful idea. I feel like all I do is say No, so this seemed like such a fun idea. There were some ground rules, of course. 🙂 The 10 items were agreed upon before the actual day. Only one item cold require money. For example, they couldn’t put “go to a movie” and “get a new toy.” Most of the items needed to be FREE. I wanted them to get creative-not just pick the obvious things!

We read YES Day! to the boys previous to the creation of their individual lists! The book showcases some simple but great ideas to make the day fun.


Then, it was time for list making! If you would like to print out your own list, check this one out!


I find some of these so amusing.

Y for Yes Day Lists

This picture pretty much sums up the day. FUN!!

Y for YES Day Breakfast

I highly recommend everyone indulges in one of these days every year. I know we will.


W and X are for World Geography and eXplorers!

W and X Page

My goal for this lesson was to expose them a bit more to the continents, some major countries and a couple famous world explorers. Similar to art history, I really feel like with the exception of Christopher Columbus, they are not too familiar with any famous explorers. We also wanted to fit in the Titanic exhibit and thought what a great tie in that would be!

We started the day with circle and a few books. Today we read “So You Want to be an Explorer” (St. George) and although it was a bit lengthy, it was interesting and chock full!


Time for worksheets!

WX Worksheet Collage

WX Worksheet Collage 2

There were plenty of extra books for the carpet once workbooks were done.

WX Book Collage

I also printed a roll-an-explorer die game. There was really no winner as a group but individually, they rolled to see which explorer they rolled the most of. It was a fun and sneaky way to expose them to a few more explorers. 🙂

WX Dice Game

The kiddos did a quick place-the-sticker-animal-on-the-continent activity and that was pretty much our craft for the day as we had plans to head to the museum right after snack. There are tons of Earth and explorers projects that are so fun out there! Just search it on pinterest and BOOM!


Speaking of snack, I love these cupcakes! I had made them for Earth Day the year before and they were a huge hit.

WX Earth Cupcakes

We munched on these and then headed out to the Natural History Museum where the Titanic exhibit was being featured.


They kiddos were each given a ticket that was a reproduction of an actual passenger ticket: first class, third class, etc. with a past history included. At the end of the exhibit, the kiddos were able to go to a passenger board that showed who survived and who died..and find if they in fact were one of the lucky or not. They found this aspect so cool! The exhibit was chock full of artifacts, stories, and a real iceberg to touch and experience (obviously in a small form). I will have to say that it was worth the $6 membership price but I don’t think I would have felt the same at the regular $18 adult and $11 child admission prices. Just sayin’.

We also jumped in on a DynaMax movie: Flying Monsters 3D. We love the 3D movies and catch one whenever we get a chance. They are so well done and give a great, no amazing, historical timeline.


WX Field Trip


For dinner, we purchased an array of international food! What fun but let’s just say many “no thank you bites” were taken. We experienced some chicken curry, tabouli, edamame, chicken fried rice, spring rolls, chicken parm pops, and the boys really wanted Corn Dogs from Trader Joe’s so we labeled it “American.” Lol. It was a yummy, friend-filled night!


All in all, another excellent day! Can’t believe there are only 2 days. I have to admit that makes me a bit sad-I always enjoy, really enjoy, summer school.


V is for Vowels!

V is for Vowels

So I have to be honest, I was at a loss when trying to come up wit a V this year so when I thought of Vowels, well I just kind of settled. And then, as lesson day approached, I became nervous. I would be introducing the concept to B as a to-be kindergartner but how would I present this to the older kiddos and make it fun and a learning experience?!? Well, this was one of those days where I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome of the lesson; some lessons I know will be home runs whereas others…well. To my delight, everyone had a blast and learned too!

We started off the day with circle and a book as usual. This book seemed really good in theory and the idea is cute. I believe the message was received by the kiddos however it was ridiculously challenging to read. Check it out of your local library and see what I’m talking about 🙂


We changed up the order of activities today! I had found a video through You Tube that tied in with a craft and both together were the perfect introduction/re-introduction to the basic vowels! First up was the craft. I have to admit they were all kind of confused as to why we were making 5 bats and adding vowels to them but like most kids their age, they ate up the tracing, cutting, and stickers!

V for Vowel Bat Creation

V for Vowels Indiv Bats

So the Vowel Bat song by Shari Sloane (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g43EfOXvpG8) that I had them use the stick bats for seems a bit silly and hokey, but they LOVED it. I mean, play-it-over-and-over-again L.O.V.E.D it. They sang the song loud and held up the appropriate vowel bat with each part of the song. They were singing this song long into the day. I will say- it was catchy!

V for Vowel Song Time

Still singing, we headed to the kitchen for a search and find vowels snack! I was at a loss for a snack and considered serving foods that started with vowels but found it just too hard to pull together. Then, the alphabet cookies came to mind and boom, perfect!


V for Vowel Snack Collage

Bats in hand, they headed back upstairs to work on their work sheets for the Letter V and Vowels!


V for Vowels Ben Worksheets

V for Vowels Worksheets

We wrapped up the day with a Vowel Digraph board game that I found on Boggles World (http://bogglesworldesl.com/voweldigraphgame.htm). I attached the print outs to a larger board, created game pieces by simply writing out the vowel letters and attaching them to bases I’ve used all summer long (I think from a colorforms set :P).  The kiddos had fun playing and really helped the younger three understand digraphs (and a great refresher for the older two).

V for Vowel Game Board

So all in all, what I feared would be a boring and lame lesson turned out to be one of their favorites…go figure!


U for USA!!

U is for the USA

It turned out SO perfectly that U for USA fell on the Monday of 4th of July week. What a perfect week to review our states and symbols!

I printed out a pledge of allegiance sheet (http://homeschoolcreations.com/files/Pledge_of_Allegiance.pdf) just to be sure they all knew what the exact words were considering we were going to say it LOUD and PROUD today!

After that, we read the Scrambled States of America (Keller)- a rather cute book I highly recommend! I know the kids would too. I placed two other books on the carpet for down time: Celebrate the 50 States (Leedy) and The United States of America-A State by State Guide (Miller). Both of these are great resources as well.

U for USA books

We headed to the big table after for workbooks and there were quite a variety of worksheets in there today!

U for USA Lucas Work

U for USA work collage

U for USA worksheets 1

U for USA Worksheets 2

U for USA Worksheets 3

U for USA Worksheets 4

One by one as they were done, they headed to the carpet to flip through books celebrating our great nation. The two big kids pulled out our Scrambled States game and played it for a bit.


 When all were done with work sheets,it was time to begin our activity-USA Bingo! I was so thrilled to find this amazing set (http://deceptivelyeducational.blogspot.com/2011/09/united-states-bingo-game.html) for FREE (seriously, how generous is that!).


I have to say, in all the months preparing the workbooks for school, I still can’t get over how many FREE resources are out there. I know, having created a few sheets myself, the time and effort it takes to make them so next time you come across one you love, please let them know-it goes a long way!

After BINGO, was snack time!! I created a fruit snack for the kiddos celebrating our most cherished symbol, the American flag! I would have made one more row so there were a true number of 50 blueberries but with the number of kiddos we had, I didn’t want anything to go to waste-lol! So 40 states it was 😉

U for USA fruit flag

We also enjoyed a yummy and educational snack that a friend of mine from the East Coast, the talented Mrs. Michelle Bushey (www.bouchedesign.com), found.  These amazing cookies (they also come in Presidents which would have been phenomenal for Letters G and P Governments and Presidents a few lessons back). They are nut free, wholesome and super yummy! The kiddos had fun trying to find New Mexico, but alas, there wasn’t one for our beloved home state.

U for USA snack crackers

States and Capitals by Dick and Jane (http://www.dickandjanebakingco.com/educational-snacks/smart-cookies-states-a-capitals).

Before we began our craft, we learned a bit about Uncle Sam from the “Oh Say Can You See” (Keenan) book.


Then the kiddos worked on various age appropriate Uncle Sam activity worksheets.


Then, it was on to the craft! For this craft, all you need is: a white paper plate, a piece of white cardstock, and blue and red sheets of construction paper. For the beard, I simply printed out this template.


U for USA Uncle Sam WorkThis one cracks me up every time!

U for USA Uncle Sam Poster ShotAnother craft we did (on the 4th of July) that would tie in beautifully with this theme, are these amazingly cute hand print flag tee’s! Simply grab a plain white tee and some red and blue craft paint. We used the full palm for the stars and thumbprints for he stripes. These were a hit on the 4th!

U for USA t shirt collage

There’s so many other great ideas out there for crafts AND snacks! What did you guys do for the 4th?


T is for Tools!

T is for Tools

T for Tools was another category that came to mind right away when brainstorming Letters and matching themes. Again, I wanted the boys to have a bit of exposure to utilizing various tools and building something all by themselves. It had been a bit of time since we had gone to a wood shop or built any kits at home so it felt great to have them working on a project like this again!

I had a variety of books to read after morning circle and pledge. The Workshop by Clements is so sweet and it’s cute to watch as they use various tools to create something magical at the end. We also read I Love Tools (Sturges), which is a preschool book, but it has a quick and simple review of commonly used tools. I also had Hands (Ehlert) available on the carpet for down time.


After we jumped up and did some jacks, it was time to park their little behinds at the table for craft. We decided with our plans to head to Santa Fe for lunch and to check out a Toy Exhibit at the International Folk Museum, that busting out the Bird Houses first would work better. If we ran out of time, the workbooks could always be done in the car. The bird house kits were reasonable at $10 for all things included (even paint). The holes were pre drilled and directions very easy to follow. I did come to realize, however, that my boy’s skills were almost shameful. Their knowledge of how to even hold a hammer was really lacking. Parent fail. BUT, a little better were those skills when we were finished! My only compaint with the kit was that because the holes were pre drilled (which again was helpful), the nails did come a bit loose after just a day or so of building them. Perhaps they needed a smaller pre drilled hole? That aspect was kind of a bummer; teeny nails falling out around the house was not a desired outcome.

T for Tools Building Birdhouse 1

T for Tools Ben Building

T for Tools K and C

When the houses were built (not painted-that’s an at home, at another time part), the kiddos hopped downstairs to check out today’s themed snack which was….actually let’s see if you can figure it out. A few I shared it with had trouble deciphering them, lol. Use your imaginations!


Well, what did you guess? If you guessed hammers (pretzel sticks and cheese) and measuring tapes (all natural fruit roll ups), you are correct! If not, well I guess I can’t blame you-lol!

We raced back upstairs to get our workbook work in.

T for Tools Worksheets 2

T for Tools Worksheets 1

We had enough time to get through them and then pack up the car!

Off to Santa Fe we went! We headed to Tomasita’s (of course for T) and munched on some yummy New Mexican cuisine. Eating their seemed only appropriate on a T day 🙂


After our bellies were full, we headed up to Museum Hill to check out the International Toy Museum. How I have never been to these museums before escapes me! They are simply amazing: beautiful, clean, and so well organized and laid out.

T is for Tools Museum Collage 1

The exhibit we came to see was the life collection of one Alexander Girard. It is an amazing collection of toys, miniatures, and pop-folk art from the US and all over the world. The displays are stunning and numbered so well so that children are able to follow along with an iTouch and learn all about such beautiful finds.

T is for Tools Inside Museum Collage

We also visited the Tako Kichi: Kite Crazy in Japan exhibit which was again-vibrant, attention grabbing, and fun for the kiddos. At one point, they were glued to a small TV screen that showed the 4 day battles that are held in Japan with enormous kites. The kiddos were even able to build their own miniature kites!

T is for Tools Kite Collage

They ran outside after, and even though the wind was minimal, they all got a little air!

T is for Tools Flying Kites

Such a fun and memorable day we had!


S is for Sewing!

S is for Sewing

One of the goals when I started creating Tracy summer school last year was to expose the boys to varied skill sets. I had found tons of great camps but they were purely concentrated on one category: i.e. sports, science, etc. I wanted the boys to spend their time learning all about various topics to help achieve a more well rounded experience. So when I was in the brainstorming part of the planning process for each letter, and came upon S, I knew right away it would be sewing. I debated signing them up for a basics class at our local HipStitch, but wanted them to not only learn the basics but be able to have something tangible at the end of the lesson-something to help them understand the process from beginning to end.  Therefore, I decided to keep the lesson at home and they most certainly learned that it takes a lot of effort to sew!

We ran through morning circle time and the pledge before we grabbed a pillow and hunkered down for our story time. Although long, Pockets is chock full of enchanting pictures and a beautiful story line. Some of the language is a bit over an elementary aged level, so I replaced words here and there. Surprisingly, their attention was kept the whole time and they truly enjoyed it.


 We then listened to a read aloud of another relevant and engaging story, Something from Nothing (Gilman) on youtube through our Apple TV ((https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHSLtUKcu1w). The kiddos thought it was so cute and loved how the mice too utilized the boy’s scraps of fabric! We jumped up after story and shook out our sleepy legs and giggles and then it was on to workbooks! There were quite a few grammar, phonics, and math sheets today. The majority of the sheets were from Enchanted Learning and Education.com.

S is for Sewing Work Collage 1

S is for Sewing Work Collage 2

S is for Sewing Kids Working Collage

Kiddos were super excited to head downstairs to check out the snack creation for today! I have to admit, these Licorice Spools came out super cute-almost too cute to eat! I found them under a Mad Hatter party post (http://www.toppartyideas.com/madhatter-spools-thread-dessert/#top) and immediately fell in love with their connection to our theme. All you need are mini nutter butters (peanut butter removed), cherry pull apart Twizzlers, pretzel rods, and red frosting (serves as glue for the nutter butter to adhere to the pretzel rod). I actually found it easier to wrap the cherry licorice string around the pretzel first and then “glue” on the tops of the spool. Needless to say, the kiddos were in awe and so excited!

S is for Sewing Snack Collage


After those were pulled completely apart, lol, we headed back upstairs to sew our sock animals for what I imagined would be a really long time, but I had no idea just how long it would really end up taking. Let’s just say that the finishing touches were done after a break to the pool in the afternoon, dinner AND desert. We snuggled up on the couch and busted through the three together and FINALLY finished them up. Phew.

S is for Sewing Kids Sewing Collage

S is for Sewing Sock Animals Collage

If you do use these kits, prepare some of the first steps as I did to save some time. I lined up the socks with the patterns I cut out for the three younger kiddos and was going to have the older kiddos do their own but decided against it last minute the night before-which I am glad I did, as they needed help with accuracy too. In reality, the older ones (again ages 8) were able to do some of the stitches but we had to go over them as often they were too wide and stuffing was coming out. The younger were really only able to add on any decoration (i.e. ears, collars, etc) and stuff! They did learn though just how much effort it takes and it led to great conversation about clothing and others items we own that require a needle and thread!


Q is for AlbuQuerQue!

Q is for Albuquerque

I’ve been looking forward to this day and the fun we’ll have exploring our city!

We started off with circle and made sure to say the New Mexico pledge nice and loud after the regular pledge of allegiance!

 I salute the flag of the state of New Mexico, the Zia symbol of perfect friendship among united cultures.

I had a book to read but it went with a snack and math activity so I decided to hold it off till after workbooks.

Workbooks were quite short as there are not a ton of worksheets that involve New Mexico 🙂

Q worksheet Collage

Q Kids Workbook Collage

Now, it was time to read AND sing good ol’ Albuquerque Turkey!


It is sung to the tune of Oh My Darlin’ Clementine. So cute!

Following the book, everyone received a Turkey math worksheet.

Q Turkey Math

We then headed to the kitchen for Apple and Pepper Turkey assembly!


The kiddos thought this snack was awesome and ate it right up! All you need is peppers sliced thin, an apple, a carrot, little part of a blackberry for eyes, and toothpicks!

Q Apple Turkey Snack Collage


After snack, we packed up lunches (cute ol’ State sandwiches with a blueberry capital marker) and headed out to Tiguex Park for a bit of playing and a picnic lunch before we began on our Old Town Scavenger Hunt!


IMG_2756This hunt was a field trip of my second grader earlier this year. It has clues to historic markers and points of interest.


Q Old Town Hunt 1

Q Old Town Hunt 2

Q Old Town Hunt 3

 It was unfortunately a bit hot so we skipped the last two locations but we did make a stop for some ice cream. It is summer school after all 🙂


N is for Numbers!

N is for Numbers

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1….time for school!

Making this unit a bit challenging for the olders was, well, a challenge-lol! I didn’t want it to be just a basic refresher. I thought we would touch on place values, ordinal vs. cardinal numbers, and even numbers in Spanish!

We started off with circle time and then read Ten in the Bed by Penny Dale. This has always been one of my favorites as well as the boys’. The love the sounds each animal makes as it falls of the bed!


The kiddos busted through some worksheets.

Number Worksheets Collage

Number Ben work collageI love this one-“Numbers are hard!” Lol.


As each kiddo finished their worksheets, I had a downtime activity waiting for them on the carpet. I had seen clothespin wheels all over the blog world and couldn’t wait to use one but wanted it to be applicable to three skill levels. I created a simple number matching wheel for my youngest entering K in the fall although he could have worked on the addition one too, at least wheel 1. For the first and second grade crew, a matching wheel with addition. And for the two entering third, a multiplication wheel. To adjust this wheel for each skill level, simply print the wheel as it is and then adjust the level by changing up the clothespins.


Number Matching Game Collage


After everyone matched up their wheels, they grabbed a cup of Fruit-O’s and sorted out 10 groups of 10 to create a 100 necklace!


I definitely think a couple were snuck along the way!


Number 100 Necklace

Number Necklace After collage

Next up, disaster craft! Lol.

Number Book Collage

Time to create number books! I had everyone except my little do their number books in Spanish! They had to look up the numbers 1-20 in Spanish on the internet, label their pages, and pick the equivalent number of stickers as the number on the page: 1 = one sun sticker, 2 = 2 bird stickers.


Lunchtime! Kiddos had to count and figure what there was 1 of, 2 of, 3 of, etc. Fun!