Ever since the kids entered elementary school, I like to plan engaging activities and field trips for us to take during school breaks. I base the activities on topics the kids are interested in. This morning, I asked them what they wanted learn more about on the way to school and to think about places they would like to visit during the break. When they were younger I would take time to observe their play and plan activities based on what they showed interest in.
I have also used Joseph Renzulli’s Interest-A-Lyzer survey to more formally gage their interests and how they like to learn. The Interest-A-Lyzer is meant to be used for planning gifted enrichment activities based on a learner’s interests rather than a prescribed curriculum. It is part of the School Wide Enrichment Model used in gifted and talented programming.
In addition to spending time on topics of interest. We make time to go on little hiking adventures to explore new trails. I pack up the minivan with the three kids and the two dogs and head out to a local state park, a nearby trail, or to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Last year, we made a point to take our new puppy out with us on the outings so she would get used to riding in the car and being in new places. We try to go to dog friendly places as much as possible.
This year my six-year-old wants to spend time doing math. We will focus on problem-solving and puzzles rather than spend time on arithmetic skills (blah). I have several math resources I use to find problems appropriate for him. I allow him to solve the problems in his own way. There are many ways of knowing and understanding and I don’t want to impart my way of thinking or problem-solving on him. I observe him as he works to learn about his mathematical thinking. We often discuss his ideas and solutions afterwards.
My 13-year-old is doing geometry this year and is really bored with the proofs and the how slowly the textbook moves through definitions of lines, angles, etc. I found a lovely Waldorf math inspired book, Drawing Geometric Solids,* that teaches how to draw solids using a compass, a ruler and colored pencils. I am hoping this helps him feel more excited about geometry while extending his ideas about the concepts he is learning. We are also going to be reading from A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe.*
My daughter loves to spend time making and creating. I think she will enjoy drawing the geometric solids as well as spending time improving her watercolor skills.
This spring break we’ll be heading out to visit new places, taking easy hikes with our 14.5- year-old Shepherd mix and terrier mix pup, as well as visiting the zoo or botanical garden. We like to take advantage of the wonderful spring time temps because all too soon it will hot as heck here!