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15 Ways to Cure the Summer Blahs

15 fun activities to help your kids beat summer boredom

Want to know something that both frustrates me and amuses me mightily?  During the school year I have to wake my boysup at 7:30 to get chores done and breakfast eaten so we can be in class by 8.  And sometimes it’s HARD.

Sometimes it’s downright improbable.

They are teenagers now, after all, and their bodies are doing that weird teenager thing where they want to stay up all night and sleep F-O-R-E-V-E-R once they finally get to bed.

During the summer?  I can’t even get my first cup of coffee down without those boys rolling out of bed and bounding into the living room sometime between 6 & 7.

Talking.  Immediately. Incessantly.  Ever seen me before my 1st cup of coffee?  It’s not pretty.  And you really don’t want to talk to me at all.  Because chances are my response will be something along the lines of, “Please stop talking.  For like half an hour.”
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6 Tips to Keep Kids Reading All Summer

6 fabulous and easy tips to keep your kids reading all summer

I don’t know what’s going on in your neck of the woods, but it’s officially summer here. Not by the calendar, maybe, but since our homeschool year ended several weeks ago and the public school year ends today, summer is on in southern Indiana.

Summer is such  a good time for littles.  They get a break from all that learning (unless you’re like me and find teachable moments in even the most unlikely situations), and they have the opportunity to do whatever they want with their days.

It’s heady stuff.  The problem for us parents is that it can mean a distinct lack of interest in reading as other activities become open to our kids.  So how do you keep them reading all summer?

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25 Days of Lit in Your Homeschool Day 17: Farm

qe6xmYou know how much I love books about farms.  Even here where we farm every day, we’ve done a couple of farm studies.  There are some things we don’t do.  For instance, we’ve never had a milk cow.  We spent a week last year milking the neighbor’s cow while they were on vacation, and it was a fun learning experience that left us with sore hands.  (We had milk goats once upon a time, but cows are much harder to milk.  At least, to us they were.) We don’t do a large crop field.  Rather, we do smaller vegetable plots.  We only have to feed ourselves.  It feels a little late in life to start farming crops to sell.  Sounds like a lot of work to me!  So we still have stuff to learn about working a farm and what happens on different types of farms.  I bet your littles do, too.

Farm studies can focus on animals, plants, soil care, so many things.  I grew up reading good lit about living on farms (and even actually staying at my Aunt Darlene’s farm for a week in the summer–a memory that still makes me smile), and while I never really thought I would end up on a farm myself, I loved Dreaming about farms.  So this is another one where I’ll try to behave and not overload you with suggestions.  You know my first recommendation has to be


Charlotte’s Web by E B White

Ah, Fern. Wilbur.  Charlotte.  You might assume my love of spiders comes from this book, but this was actually the second story–the one that verified my love.  The first was a story I read (or heard) in elementary school about a group of either 5 or 7 spiders who lived in an old woman’s house and helped her spin.  When she cleaned their webs from her ceiling, they left her house and she lost her work.  I have never been able to find this story again, and that’s all I remember of it.  I’ve googled, I’ve asked everyone I know; no one but me remembers this tale.  So if you do, please tell me its name in the comments so I can read it again.  I loved that story.  Anyway, Charlotte’s Web.  It’s a great introduction to farm life for any little.  While the story is about the pig, the farm is almost a character in itself because the setting is so prominent in this book.  And who doesn’t love Wilbur?  And You can’t write words with your rear end and no tools.  So Charlotte is awesome.


Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown

Brown’s poetic ode to barns is a childhood favorite for a reason.  We still have our copy from when the littles were small.  I’m saving it for the grandchildren.  If you have young littles who are interested in or studying farms, this lilting little book is the thing.


The Story of Ferdinand by Robert Lawson

O. M. G. This story is so sweet it’ll give you a toothache.  It’s also an interesting way to show your littles that farms are basically the same the world over.  It’s about a pacifist bull in Spain.  He loves his favorite cork tree and the flowers that grow near it, and he just wants to hang out there and be peaceful.  Lawson’s pen-and-ink drawings are miraculous and the happy ending will have your littles squealing.  Quietly and contentedly.  And peacefully.


Mystery Ranch (The Boxcar Children Mysteries #4) by Gertrude Chandler Warner

We own most of this series because Littlest is determined to be either a detective or a spy when he grows up.  I hope I haven’t just blown his cover.  Like all the Boxcar Children mysteries, this one is full of suspense, but it also has some pretty good descriptions of ranch life.  And a ranch is, after all, just another type of farm.


Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

This Little House book tells the story of Almanzo Wilder’s childhood on a big farm in New York state.  Like all the Little House books, it could almost be a manual for rural life.  This one would be great for any type of farm study.


A Blizzard Year by Gretel Ehrlich

We love this book.  Another ranch tale, but with the twist of being set in a Wisconsin winter, when a blizzard means extra work to keep the livestock safe.  Wow, did we learn a lot about living up north by reading this book.  If you want your littles to look at farming from the other side of the year, this book is perfect.


The Year at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen

As suggested by the title, this book goes through a year on a farm, from month to month, both showing and telling your littles what happens on the farm each month.  I love the whole “animals don’t know there’s such a thing as a year.  But they do know there are seasons.”  Yeah Yeah.  How awesome would it be to not measure time in minutes?

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

For ambitious littles, this classic is not only a good introduction to plantation life but to the south, slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.  I have always loved Scarlett and her story, and the book is so different from the film that if you haven’t read it before, it will surprise you.  Scarlett’s life was even richer than you suppose.  As God is my witness.

I could go on and on.  I am sure I’ve left out some childhood faves of my own and some picture books you’ll want to string me up for forgetting.  If so, recommend them to my other readers in the comments.  I can always use the help.

Love wins,


Day One: Donkeys   Day Two: Summer    Day Three: Water     Day Four: Insects     Day Five: Owls

Day Six: Bears     Day Seven: Winter     Day Eight: Poetry     Day Nine: Squirrels & Rabbits     Day Ten: Moon

Day Eleven: Autumn   Day Twelve: Plants   Day Thirteen: Camp   Day Fourteen: Legends   Day Fifteen: Mice

Day 16: Mythology

25 Days of Lit in Your Homeschool: Day 13 Camp

Tent on the Trampoline

Tent on the Trampoline

What?  Even bloggers need a vacation.  🙂

I needed this one for my sanity.  I hadn’t given myself any slack since about April, which is great when all you have to do is write a blog, not so great when you also have to homeschool, farm, plan curriculum, be a mom, clean your house, and make sure your beautiful husband knows how much you love and appreciate him.  Social life?  Meh.

Sorry I didn’t warn you, dear readers.  Because I also love and appreciate you.  But it was my sanity-cation and I took it before I broke.  And to recover from reading Go Set a Watchman, which I will not be reviewing any time soon.  Because I had 10 pages left to read for a week and couldn’t bear to finish it.  Because I knew what was coming and I didn’t want to read it.  And I was right.  And  my disillusionment is grand.  And I have to give myself some time.

But I’m back and today I’m going to give you a few lit suggestions if you and your littles do a camping unit.  Some of these would even enhance a camping day if you plan a homeschool summer camp.  Why would you study camp?  Well, why do the Boy Scouts do it?  Duh.  There is so much to be gleaned from a camping lesson.  How to track.  How to bait a hook.  How to pitch a tent.  How to build a fire.  How to store food.  How to cook on a campfire.  How to find water.  (The whole family contributed to that list.)  And a good book to accompany such an amazing lesson is Always a Good Thing.


Just Me and My Dad by Mercer Mayer

We Love the Little Critter books.  This one was one of Littlest’s favorites because it reminded him of him and his dad and all their outdoor adventures.  The illustrations in this are far more telling than the simple text, and watching Little Critter make mistakes and make up for them is always good for a laugh.


When We Go Camping by Margriet Ruus

The illustrations in this book are phenomenal, the text is a beautiful homage to nature, and the characters are appreciative of their time outdoors.  It is a perfect book for teaching your littles all there is to love about camping.

Wolf Camp by Katie McKy

This book is hilarious.  When Maddie comes home from Wolf Camp and sniffs her pet collie in greeting, the laughter is on.  The question is, what changes did Wolf Camp really bring about in Maddie?  Are those howls for real?  Your littles will truly enjoy this lively book.  And maybe get a few ideas of their own.  So try to keep them from chewing on your tires.


A Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements

Talk about quickly learning survival skills… Mark’s 5th grade class is on a week-long campout.  First day out he gets in trouble with the teacher, Mr. Maxwell, and runs off into the woods.  Mr. Maxwell goes after him and together they not only get lost but have to survive.  What’s cool about this book is that not only does the adolescent learn a few life lessons, so does the adult.  They kind of have to, if they’re going to get along well enough to get out of the woods.  Plus, the story is action-packed and thrilling.  My boys couldn’t bear to put it down.


Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary

Well, Mama, did you forget that Ralph runs away to Happy Acres Camp?  I love the Mouse and the Motorcycle stories, and camp is a good excuse to read this one.  Cleary definitely knew her stuff when she wrote these amazing stories about mice using toys and lost items to furnish their lives.  And it’s adorable that Ralph goes to camp in order to meet ‘boys his age.’  I crush on that.  Cute little mouse.


Holes by Louis Sachar

Sure, Holes is set in a camp for delinquent boys, but it’s still a camp.  And the character building… I wonder if I can get my Littles to go outside and dig me a 5×5 hole.  And find me a treasure.  This action-packed mystery is sure to inspire, so hide your shovels.

On a nonfiction note, if you’re looking for activities to include in your camping unit, check out The Kids Campfire Book by Jane Drake.  It’s full of really great ideas for making a camping trip special.

Have fun.  And use an air mattress.

Love wins,


Day One: Donkeys  Day Two: Summer  Day Three: Water   Day Four: Insects   Day Five: Owls

Day Six: Bears  Day Seven: Winter   Day Eight: Poetry  Day Nine: Squirrels & Rabbits  Day Ten: Moon

Day Eleven: Autumn    Day Twelve: Plants