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A STEM Summer

Here’s a sneak peak at something I am working on that I’m calling “A STEM Summer”. (Click on the picture and it will become bigger, or see if this link will work.)

A STEM Summer is designed to take between 30 minutes to an hour each day, not counting field trips on Wednesdays. I wanted to design something that was easy, free, thematic, and fun to do this summer in a multiage setting. When I’m finished planning, I will upload my hyperlinked chart so that you can join in on the fun.

Hopefully, A STEM Summer will be a jumping-off board for other families who would like to do something academic over the summer to keep their children’s brains busy, but who agree with Michael Clay Thompson that workbooks are “the neutron bombs of education”.

There are many ways that you could pick and choose from these plans, to meet the needs of your own kids. Maybe you just want to do one week of A STEM Summer. Maybe you just want to use the weekly themes to help you plan which books to put on hold from the library. Maybe you just want to do science experiments every Tuesday, all summer. Or, maybe you want to follow along with us every step of the way and send in your pictures and comments.

Here’s how the eight weeks of A STEM Summer will work:

  • Mondays: ART
  • Tuesdays: SCIENCE
  • Wednesdays: TECHNOLOGY
  • Thursdays: ENGINEERING
  • Fridays: MATH

The weekly themes are based upon a great art book I found at the library called 123 I Can Paint! by Irene Luxbacher. It’ not very expensive, so I am going to purchase it. Here are the weekly themes:

  • Week 1: OCEANS
  • Week 2: FARMS
  • Week 3: HOT/COLD
  • Week 4: CITIES
  • Week 5: SPACE
  • Week 7: BUILDINGS
  • Week 8: OLYMPICS

Each week I’ll check out a bunch of thematic books from the library for my kids to read. Some of the science ideas are from I Capture the Rowhouse’s Science Without a Net program, which is fabulous. Most of the science and engineering experiments I’ve selected use ordinary household objects. I’m hoping that my total expenditures will be under $100, but there are a few things I plan to purchase/already own:

A Note About Art/Mondays: 123 I Can Paint! is a directions-based art book. It could be open ended if you wanted it to be, but it does show step-by-step instructions for how to create each piece. Since I am not an artist myself, I felt like I needed help in this way. Here’s a sample:

A Note about Technology/Wednesdays: We are going to try to go on themed field trips each Wednesday. While out and about, I’m going to teach Bruce(7) and Jenna(3) how to use our camera and video camera. Then later at home, I’ll continue teaching Bruce how to use Windows Movie Maker so that he can create his own summer movie.

A Note about Literacy and Language Arts: There are lots of ways you could use A STEM summer to help improve your child’s reading, writing, and language arts skills over the summer. One way would be to create homemade science books , another way would be keep a science notebook or journal, and a third would be to incorporate writing about math into your Friday activities. Younger children will benefit from a daily Morning Message, where you can write things like “Today is Thursday. We are making a solar oven. It will be so hot!”. Hopefully the experiments and projects will be so fun, that your kid will want to write all about them. You could even send me a jpg and I’ll post their work on my blog if you would like.

When I am finished planning, this will be the home of A STEM Summer. I’m very much open for suggestions and ideas. Please don’t be shy to tell me what you think needs improving!


  1. jengod says:

    You amaze me. Carry on being awesome! 🙂

  2. Claire H. says:

    I was anti-workbook for the longest time, until I had a couple of kids who threw my wonderful plans for all these “hands-on” activities out the window. They actually LIKE doing workbooks (especially my older one) and will even do them voluntarily in their leisure time “for fun”. They also read textbooks and reference books “for fun”. My mom says that she thinks I would’ve been like that as a kid too if I had been given materials that were at the proper challenge level rather than ones that were far too easy.

    • jenbrdsly says:

      I probably would have been like that too. From teaching though, I know that most kids don’t like workbooks. Knowing you Claire, I bet that workbooks aren’t the only part of your homeschooling program either. 🙂
      I think the danger is teachers and parents who think that they can provide kids with a bunch of workbooks and call that an education.

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