Summer vacation doesn’t start here in the Pacific Northwest until mid June, but we’re busy this weekend making plans for our annual Alphabet Summer festivities. I thought I’d share now, in case some of you lucky ducks who’ve already started your break want to play along and share your own summer ideas.
Our Alphabet Summer tradition started two years ago when my older boys were 2 and 4, and I was pregnant with my youngest. I was looking for something that would provide some structure for our days and the opportunity to practice the fine motor and pre-writing skills which my oldest son really struggled with at the time. Most of all, I wanted everyone to have a fun summer, and I needed some major motivation to get my hot, pregnant self out on some little adventures with my boys.
The first summer was great for the kids but hard for me. I spent lots of time planning lots of activities. (Way too many activities!) There are such wonderful alphabet themed ideas out there, and it was tough to choose. The teacher in me wanted to do them all, but the mom in me wanted my kids to have a relaxing summer. So…quickly, I scaled it back to a few fun activities that require minimal time or materials.
Here’s the basic rundown:
- Each day we celebrate a different alphabet letter, in alphabetical order. We usually do 3-4 letters each week.
- We do some kind of project or go on an adventure that represents the letter of the day. Note: Our adventures are almost always free and short so we’re back for naptime. (B -Blueberry picking, F -Farm, W-Wash our bikes and other toys in the sprinkler, etc.)
- We do some kind of quick skill practice, hopefully disguised as a fun letter-themed activity. (L is for Lacing. Fun, but also good fine motor work.)
- In the past, we’ve created a scrapbook page for each day so we could document the fun and practice cutting, gluing, writing/drawing. I’m still working out the details for this year, but probably some type of fun journaling.
- We try food that starts with the letter of the day. A fun challenge for picky eaters!
- We read a book that corresponds to each letter.
- We listen to some music related to the letter…
We also always have some kind of summer long project that grows with each letter of the alphabet. For example, this year we’re making an alphabet collection by filling 26 small baby food jars with small “somethings” that start with each letter. A-apple seeds, B-beads, C-crayon bits, D-dirt… Last year, we build a city out of food packaging boxes. (On “A” day, we made a Airport, on “B” Day we made a Bakery…) The previous year we made a puppet for each letter. We also made a puppet stage and put on lots of puppet plays throughout the summer.)
My kids love Alphabet Summer because they get to help choose our adventures and spend some time exploring our city. I also think that my boys, (and lots of other kids), feel happy when they know that there is some sort of plan or routine for the summer.
Now that I’ve typed this out, I’m thinking it looks kind of elaborate. In reality, it’s pretty relaxed. We still leave PLENTY of time for the best thing about summer, which is totally unstructured goof off time.
I’ll report on our adventures this summer as they unfold. This year the boys planned the whole schedule, so it should be big fun!
What are your summer plans? What are your favorite alphabet activities?