It’s mid June. Many people think of this time as when schools and districts are gearing down, packing up classrooms, and preparing for vacation. But it can be one of the busiest times of year, especially for directors and coordinators of summer programs, who are frantically pulling together field trips, activities that must be the right mix of fun (so the kids come) and academically enriching (so parents and teachers are happy), nutritious daily meals, and everything from salsa lessons to horticulture classes with a huge range of outside partners.
According to a recent report from the Wallace Foundation, summer programming can cost from $1,109 to $2.801 per child. The report, entitled: Making Summer Count, How Summer Programs can Boost Children’s Learning, found that summer reading loss is disproportionate for low-income kids—who often lose ground on reading while higher income kids gain ground. The good news is that students who attended summer programs (including those that encourage kids to read at home during the summer) all experienced higher levels of achievement than matched peers that did not attend a summer program for at least two years. In my opinion the report did not offer any new or groundbreaking recommendations for people doing this work (recruit kids early, hire staff early to get the best people, develop partnerships, be creative about funding), but maybe that’s not the point. It’s fuel for the counter-attack in districts where summer programming is being threatened.
I rounded up a few ideas from the web for those running a summer program. All of them use recycled and/or found products.
Joanne Meier shared this great summer journal idea on her blog last year. I love that it uses found objects, like plastic straws and fliers rescued out of the recycling bin. Along those lines, this recycled disco ball with old CD’s is a great project that uses materials kids can bring from home.
A popular theme for many summer programs is exploring kids’ cultures and heritage. This is a great family tree –a hanging mobile students can create using twigs for branches.
Finally, these 10 eco-friendly summer activities include old favorites like turning a bottle into a lava lamp and making paper.