Summer Learnin’ – Had Me a Blast

June 13, 2012 at 11:26 am 92 comments

Hm, not sure my son would agree with that.

Good idea to post what you might be doing to go Tiger Mom/Dad this summer.

I’ve told my son that he’s going to be doing Mommy Math Camp this summer.   As I may have mentioned, one of the insane policies of the RGC is to skip 4th grade match entirely.  So in 2nd grade, my son did 3rd grade math and he was ok at it.  Back to school for 3rd grade, they have 5th grade Everyday Math books.  Fourth grade math was entirely skipped.   The teacher has put in a lot of her own time after school to help get everyone up to speed.   My son has squeaked out A’s and B’s somehow.  He sorta grasps the concepts for the test, but they move SO quickly that I feel we need to take some big steps back to make sure he really get everything before they start what I *think* might be algebra next year.  Is that POSSIBLE?  I swear I was just doing 1+1 with him not long ago.

First we will work on the basic math facts through.  Without that, you can’t do anything else.

For reading he’s doing fine.  His school set up a summer book program where if you read books from like 9 genres you get to attend a popsicle party when school starts.   I can’t believe a popscicle motivated him, but he wants to participate so I am thrilled.  Anyone had a kid read non-fiction?  I’m not sure what kid non-fiction is out there.  Maybe he’ll read the Diane Ravitch book with me?

Those with little kids doing reading, I was always a big fan of the montessori way of teaching.  Letter are learned as sounds and for each letter the child is shown a little toy of an object that starts with that letter.  B is “buh” and the child holds a ball.   I’m sure you could use photos/pics as well, but the toy assortment makes it really fun.   they also use loose letters.   I used to use those bright plastic magnet letters and make fun little games where I’d do things like the “P-I-G” just grew and became really “B-I-G” and I’d swap out the P for the B and so on.  No idea if that helped him but he has always been good at reading.  My ideas for math have ended in screaming matches so I need to re-thing that one.

Post your stuff here and i will copy the comments from the other thread.

My Blackberry is about to die so I can’t post from there nor approve comments from it.  I may be forced into the modern era of smartphones tomorrow….

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CPSObsessed Book Club Begins! Example of a School Board Election (San Diego)

92 Comments Add your own

  • 1. MCBG  |  June 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    my kindergartner soon to be 1st grader at a RGC will be doing a few workbook pages a day in grammar, math, comprehension, bought them on amazon.

  • 2. Emily  |  June 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I always have my 2 kids (Decatur 6th grade & Waters 3rd) do the summer bridge books. Also, my company, Sharp As A Tack is holding summer camps for the first time this summer. While we are not math specific, we use game play to help cognitive development (logic, processing, critical thinking) which all help with math development. We have many options, including daily full and half days.

  • 3. SR  |  June 13, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    MCBG – my child is in the same situation, but he’s not likely to be interested in doing more “homework” over the summer, especially for reading/comprehension. If the books you have seem more fun than homework, could you post the names?

  • 4. Workingmommyof2  |  June 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    When I was a girl in elementary school I was obsessed with Olympic gymnasts. Used to read kid-level biographies of Nadia Comenechi and Olga Korbut. If there’s someone your son is interested in, a biography might work.

    I also do the P-I-G, B-I-G type stuff with my 4-year-old. He likes it for a while, but when he starts answering my questions with, “It says poop!” then I know it’s time to stop and go outside and play. 🙂

  • 5. MCBG  |  June 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    @SR- the woorkbooks are by Evan Moore Publishing and one is a writing workbook by Scholastic;all are geared towards a child in 1st-2nd grade and have cute pictures and age appropriate topics. If you still would like the names, let me know. Besides that, I also plan on taking him to the library weekly. I kind of wanted to just relax this summer and not do any more “homework” but I’d feel guilty if I didn’t and I want to make sure he has a firm grasp on the things he will encounter in the fall. He attends Edison and it moves quickly!

  • 6. SoxSideIrish4  |  June 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    When my kids were younger they always did the Chicago Library Summer Reads program and many several workbooks (that they always finished too quickly~they loved them). I always bought advanced books and it worked out well. Up until last summer they had to read an hour a day and now it’s 2hrs a day. Both my boys started reading nonfiction in 3rd grade…I think it was for a book report and then they were hooked. They both read quite a bit of nonfiction…mostly abt Gettysburg, Civil War, World Wars 1 & 2, etc. My one son in third grade became quite interested in animals, their living environment, etc so he’s a big reader on certain animals. But just as fiction is a good read for escape for a child nonfiction is good for absorbing history, etc. The more they are interested in a subject, they more they will want to read.

    This summer they will read abt 2hrs a day and play their instruments an hour aday.

  • 7. Workingmommyof2  |  June 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    CPSO: Do you know what CPS’ rationale is behind skipping 4th grade math for the gifted kids? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just spend half of the 3rd-grade year on 4th and the other half on 5th? Or split the 4th-grade book between the end of grade 2 and the start of grade 3? Just wondering if you’ve ever asked them why they do it that way.

  • 8. cpsobsessed  |  June 13, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Well, they have to shift from 1 grade ahead to 2 grades ahead at some point. And my assumption was they don’t want to have to buy all the 4th grade books if they don’t have to. I think I asked and was told “because that’s the way CPS has decided to do it.” Bah.

  • 9. SR  |  June 13, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks MCBG!

  • 10. IB obsessed  |  June 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Ah RGCs and Everyday Math grade skipping, a topic near and not dear to me. This royally screwed up math for my kid for years, and is one reason she is now at a private school. We were at an RGC (mentioned on this blog by some as needing improvement) where NO extra help/tutoring was offered even with pleading and the principal locked the door promptly at 2:30 everyday. At the time, I called the EM company to order games and the book that was skipped, and told them our story. The rep. said that what CPS does is NOT recommended, and not even needed because it is already an enriched curriculum. They explained the curriculum builds and they need every year, “gifted” or not, and that it would be better to just move through it faster if they want them to be advanced.

    My kid tolerates summer work in math if it is not the same old book used during the year, and we had great success last year with Jump Math (, and program used in Canada. Every level book starts with very basic skills and progresses. Great for math skill weak EM kids. My kid is finally earning B+s in Math.

  • 11. Amy  |  June 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    A great website with a ton of great videos for the kids to explore is I will have my 4th and 6th grader watching a video of their choice daily and writing a short summary for me. It’s great nonfiction and I find that they are more “into it” because they get to choose their own video vs. me telling them what to do. Also, it’s always better to have kids read nonfiction because it’s written at a much higher level than fiction.

  • 12. LR  |  June 13, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    @ 7 and 8 (CPSO): At Bell’s RGC, we do NOT skip the 4th grade book in 3rd grade. Your comments put me into a panic, so I asked around. Starting in 5th grade, a group of students in the RGC class who demonstrate an aptitude for math can walk up to the 6th grade RGC class and that group of kids ends up in Geometry in 8th, But, not everyone in the RGC class does that. Not sure why Coonley chose to skip the 4th grade book. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense anyway…the only thing that being two years ahead does for a kid is that they will be able to achieve a higher level of math in high school. My understanding is that if they take algebra and geometry in junior high, they can pass out of it, but they do not get high school credit. They still need to attain 3 credits (or whatever it is) of high school math beyond Geometry for graduation. It is one of the things that sort of makes me want to push my RGC kids (who are still very young) towards academic centers. At least there, if you take algebra and geometry, it counts as high school credit.

    By the way, no plans for “summer school” for my kids. My kids have really gotten into board games lately (more adult level ones with complex logic involved), so that is as close to summer school as we will get : )

  • 13. EdgewaterMom  |  June 13, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    A great math game that we were able to use for several years is Dino Math Tracks ( I think we first got in in K or 1st, but it has several levels that you can play – which also allows you to adapt it for a mixed age group.

    We also use Math Dice by Think Fun – we will often play just before or after dinner, or any time we have a few extra minutes.

    Khan Academy is my favorite tool! We started using it at the end of 3rd grade and it has been so valuable.

  • 14. EdgewaterMom  |  June 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    I forgot to add that “Blokus” is a great game that keeps you thinking. My dd now beats me at it regularly!

  • 15. claire  |  June 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    From a teacher’s perspective, I would skip the workbooks. I’m already imaging my students throwing tempter tantrums and longingly staring out the window on a sunny day. I would concentrate on more engaging, “authentic” (teacher buzz word), activities:

    1. Reading for FUN. Take your child to the library often. Let them pick their own books. Graphic novels, whatever it takes (I remember visiting the library in the summer for the library summer reading program. You go to sit in a booth and talk to the librarian about the book. I loved it…nerd alert)

    2. Read out loud to your child. From birth to 8th grade, this is shown to have a HUGE impact on a child’s comprehension, vocabulary, and reading interest. Check out Jim Trelasse’s The Read Aloud Handbook for tons of data and good books. Pick classics- Treasure Island, LIttle Woman, Pippi Longstocking, James and the Giant Peach, etc. Even K students will love some of these!

    3. Build “background knowledge” (another teacher buzz word). This is basically what your kids knows about people, places, and things. Go on field trips- baseball games, zoos, the beach, the Loop, the country, the suburbs, Botanic Gardens, museums, a hike, etc. Talk about it all with your child.

    4. Writing skills are what teachers often see the biggest slide in. Your best bet is probably things like pen pals letters to a cousin or even a neighbor, a diary, etc. Set up a writing corner in your house with postcards, different types of paper, markers, a stapler, etc, and your child just might choose to go there! Even creating books like “How to Avoid Your Little Sister All Summer Long” will help keep their skills fresh! : )

    As far as math goes, workbooks may be OK for older kids, but for the younger kiddos, I would try to weave it in to every day routines. Play counting games in the car (Buzz, etc). Have your child often tell time on an analog clock. Have your child count coin piles. Practice flash cards every once in a while (This is probably the easiest thing for parents to help with), but make it FUN. Time them and track their success. Ask your child’s teacher about math games to play at home. Everyday Math has a TON.

    Hope this helps! I commend all the parents who want to fight the summer slide! Good luck! : )

  • 16. brigidkeely  |  June 13, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Horn Book Review has a book called “Raising A Family Of Readers”, I believe, that covers how to foster a love of reading in kids/young adults with chapters on different genres/age levels and examples of both really good books in the genre/level as well as guides to what to look for. I know they have a chapter on non fiction. I initially picked up the book as an impulse at the chicago public library and have since purchased it. I mention the library element because you could totally get it there and save some $$ (unless you,, like me, decide it’s worth owning).

  • 17. CarolA  |  June 13, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    @16 Nothing wrong with going out into the woods and exploring as long as there is discussion and probing questions to get your child thinking “outside the box”. I agree with @15 #3: Building background knowledge and this can easily be done with things like exploring. As a first grade teacher, I see many of my students who don’t have simple background knowledge. For example, we were about to write a story about a circus and most of the class had never seen a circus, been to a circus, knew what acts were in a circus. So I created a visual powerpoint display showing what a trapeze looks like, how elephants hook trunks to tails, etc. They didn’t even know about a ringmaster. I also do a test 3 times a year that checks to see if a student can use a word in a proper sentence. I’m not talking about writing a sentence, just saying a sentence. For example, if I said the word balloon, they would try to think of a sentence that has balloon in it like: I got a balloon for my birthday. You’d be surprised how many students can’t do this. This is easy to do while driving just about anywhere. No materials needed. Also, have your child learn how to begin each new sentence with a different word so they don’t get stuck saying I saw, I saw, I saw for every single sentence. If your child doesn’t understand a word, take the time to explain it to them. Background knowledge just can’t be beat for school success.

  • 18. MCBG  |  June 13, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    I love these great suggestions! @SR, as I mentioned in my earlier post, here are the workbooks I plan on using this summer.You can preview the book on amazon in most cases or on google books as well:
    1) Grammar and punctuation, grade 2, by Evan-Moor Publishing
    2) Daily Reading comprehension, grade 2, Evan-Moore
    3) Scholastic Success with writing workbook, Scholastic News

    Not sure if we will be able to finish all 3 so these are good yearlong as supplements also.

  • 19. Sped Mom  |  June 14, 2012 at 12:07 am

    What do Chicago teenagers do? The kids rising from 8th grade to freshman year. What’s a summer look like for them, if they’re college-bound? Any must-dos to prepare for high school and life?

  • 20. cpsobsessed  |  June 14, 2012 at 12:09 am

    @Claire – thanks, I love the suggestions! The writing corner is a great idea and I realize that since our move I haven’t even set out the paper and markers for my son…

  • 21. Esmom  |  June 14, 2012 at 6:44 am

    You’ll find lots of non-fiction for kids out there. Biographies of presidents, sports stars and other notable people have been especially popular at our house.

    Also, keeping a journal is a low-key way to keep up the writing skills.

    @Claire, your suggestions are great! Other than reading, my kids will resist anything that obviously smacks of school, like workbooks, in the summer. So we have to sneak those learning opportunities in, sort of like pureeing vegetables and sneaking them into brownie batter!

  • 22. Portage Mom  |  June 14, 2012 at 6:44 am

    My daughter’s school has provided online links to workbooks for each grade put together by the teachers. I reviewed them and they s
    eem pretty good covering reading, math,writing and some geography. I believe the intent is to make sure kids don’t lose the skills they acquired over the year during the summer months. My daughter will be a first grader in the fall so we will complete the Ist grade and parts of the 2nd grade workbooks.

  • 23. Oneandonly  |  June 14, 2012 at 7:45 am

    My daughter, at Pritzker RGC in third grade,has been working with the 4th grade Everyday Math pretty much all year. We moved in to the class a guess we essentially skipped third grade math but with Dad’s help, she’s been doing pretty well. We’ll review and also bush up on basics (girl has to learn her multiplication tables!)

  • 24. SoxSideIrish4  |  June 14, 2012 at 8:37 am

    #19~SpedMom~It’s unfortunate that CPS has dropped the freshman connection for incoming freshman this yr. I did hear some schools were going to try and have it, but CPS cut that for next yr. So I don’t know what 8th graders going to prepare for freshman yr. Freshman connection was a way for the teachers to see where a child was at b4 the first day of class and to see if they could get them up to speed or if the child was above the class, get him into a dif one. A gr8 program, unfortunate they cut it.

  • 25. RL Julia  |  June 14, 2012 at 10:32 am

    For non-fiction books – my kids loved the Eyewitness series books – lots of science and history (and pictures) on every conceivable topic.

    For Everyday Math – you can download practically the entire curriculum per grade on the Everyday Math website –

    Lure of the Labyrinth – I liked this game more than my kids ever did -but it is good for math topics -and kids who like video games – I think its supposed to be very intuitive…
    My kids also loved all the games on the Cool Math for Kids website –

  • 26. IB obsessed  |  June 14, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Thanks RL Julia. More nonfiction recommendations for middle schoolers anyone? Mine devours fiction without prompting, but I don’t think reading the Pretty Little Liars books all summer is going to do much for her mind or skills. (or character).

  • 27. Patricia  |  June 14, 2012 at 10:52 am

    It was already mentioned, but is amazing. All 3 of my kids will use it again this summer.

    @24, freshman connection is still taking place at many schools who want it, they are using the discretionary funds. It is not a one size fits all situation, so the schools choose. Many principals did not want the program and prefered to have the funds freed up to direct elsewhere. If someone wants it, they should talk to their principal.

  • 28. cpsobsessed  |  June 14, 2012 at 10:57 am

    I feel a little ovewhlemed by Khan- how do you even decide where to start??

  • 29. RL Julia  |  June 14, 2012 at 11:09 am

    IB Obsessed – my daughter likes the following authors – all of the drama of Pretty Little Liars but not quite so scary (to me):
    Wendy Mass – really anything
    Julia DeVillers
    R.J. Palacio – Wonder
    Carl Hiassan
    Meg Haston – How to Rock Both Braces and Glasses.

    I also like to check out the CPS Battle of Books Book lists as the authors (if not the books) are usually really great reads:

    Also Illinois Library Association has a good reading list of contemporary stuff. – for high school – the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award are always full of great books too.

    I’ve also gotten really good recommendations from some of the children’s librarians at Sulzer. They rock!

  • 30. Esmom  |  June 14, 2012 at 11:09 am

    @26 IB Obsessed: I have two middle school boys and my one especially gets stuck in a rut with sports-centric stories. What saved us all were the Rebecca Caudill (award winning) books. It helps that the boys’ school has a competition to see which class can read the most.

    It is such a diverse, high-quality list. My son devoured them and eagerly and happy did a total of 9 book reports (got As on all of them with no help from me whatsoever) on them last year. It was astonishing to me.

    We just got the latest list and both my kids are already digging in. I can’t find it but here’s the list from last year. And with some digging you can probably find the latest. So many great choices!

  • 31. SoxSideIrish4  |  June 14, 2012 at 11:10 am

    #27~yes, some principals used the discretionary funds for freshman connection, most couldn’t, their budgets were cut so short this year they needed it for the school yr.

  • 32. HS Mom  |  June 14, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Just to back up Patricia – We played around with the Khan site last night and have mutually decided on a workable schedule to help my HS guy get a jump on next year and prepare for tests. The promise in return was to lay-off interfering with “mindless” activities, hanging out with friends, and some other planned “fun” activities. The universities also run enrichment camps – U of I, SIU, DePaul, IIT and many others that start at freshman level. Some are very inexpensive and still have openings.

    Our HS will have freshman connection which is an excellent way to transition. Definitely something to rally for.

  • 33. Esmom  |  June 14, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Here’s the 2013 Rebecca Caudill list. My soon-to-be sixth grader read “How to Survive Middle School” in a day, he thought it was hilarious.

  • 34. IB obsessed  |  June 14, 2012 at 11:18 am

    ESMOM just printed that Caudill list to take to our next library trip.

    Opinions wanted-I’m considering saying, “NO” to more Pretty Little Liars books. Ok, I only read the wikipedia summary of the series, but it screams TRASH. Glorifies mean airheads, some pretty mature themes, my kid is going on 12 and is pretty mature, but basically sheltered. I just think it’s too soon to fill her mind with this stuff and that there are better things to read. Is stopping this helicopter parenting; will she just sneak anyway? Will I survive teenagerdom if I have to seek advice on this relatively small thing? Inquiring minds want to know…

  • 35. Esmom  |  June 14, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Another thing we do do mix education into fun…if you are fortunate enough to visit any National Parks, monuments or historic sites (like Lincoln’s home in Springfield), the Junior Ranger program is awesome. Some state parks have them, too. My kids are 11 and almost 13 and still eagerly do the learning/activities required to earn themselves a Junior Ranger badge when they get a chance.

    For kids who can’t get to a national park, there’s a web rangers program online with fun (and educational!) games:

  • 36. Esmom  |  June 14, 2012 at 11:31 am

    @34, I ran into the same thing with my 11-year-old and The Hunger Games. I am not a fan of that series, which I read with my (grown-up) book group. I was in the minority with my aversion for sure. But I just couldn’t get behind the idea of kids killing kids, even if the writer was trying to make a political/moral statement about that. Young kids just aren’t able to take away that level of meaning, and the violence is what becomes the central focus for them.

    Anyway, I finally gave up resisting when the movie came out and all his friends were going to see it. I finally let him read the first book and made sure we talked about all the questionable content. Afterwards, I was relieved when he said he didn’t want to see the movie or read the other two books in the series. I think he needed to get it out of his system by experiencing for himself what the fuss was all about…and I’m guessing the case will be similar with your daughter and the books you mentioned. As long as you balance the “junk food” reading with healthier fare, she will be fine. And she’ll feel good that she’s in the know of what’s popular.

    Oh, and I’m with you on not being able to survive teenagerdom. The signs are already there for me, big time!

  • 37. RL Julia  |  June 14, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I never say no to any kid reading a book – but if I don’t like the book choice, I try to find something better.

    I am guessing the Pretty Little Liars series is probably pretty formulaic and mindless and maybe your daughter likes the idea of reading all of a series. I doubt she’ll be re-reading them. You might talk to your daughter about what she likes about the books (all that crazy behavior sounds like it would be fun to read about actually) -or read one together and talk about how unrealistic the characters are or ask what your daughter thinks of the character’s decision making skills.

  • 38. Irving Park mom  |  June 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    My kids will be at summer camp most days, but I’m going to try to have them do at least some of the activities from this Summer Brain Games program from the Museum of Science and Industry: We’ll also be reading as much as possible!

  • 39. anonymouseteacher  |  June 14, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    For younger readers, I use the following:
    BOB books (horrible literature, but great for the initial grasp of phonics)
    Brand New Readers box sets (great for building text to picture correlation and has the patterned support young ones need)
    The Leapfrog Letter Factory is a great DVD for learning letter sounds without trying. I recommend it for all my students.
    I also encourage focusing on the first 100 sight words. (google it, “top 100 sight words) These 100 words make up 25% of all written language people read in their lifetime.
    Kids in K-2 should be read to or be reading at least 2-3 hours a week over the summer. Background knowledge and vocabulary and comprehension are built partly this way.
    The other thing I’d recommend is that all parents speak with their child’s teacher to find out what specific skills Dibels and Mclass will be assessing for the following school year. For example, in kindergarten, kids need to be able to correctly count to 83 without any help at all in 60 seconds. They have to get faster by 1st grade. There are 4-6 skills on the mclass test and 3-5 (maybe 6) on the Dibels in 1st grade. You can ask to see a sample of all the tests they will be given. Speed is often an issue and something to focus on.
    I know I am revamping my entire math curriculum to ensure that we spend a lot more time on those few mclass skills so my students are all on “green” next year. Parents can make sure their child is meeting those benchmark tests by knowing exactly what is being measured and how.

  • 40. EdgewaterMom  |  June 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    This is a really fun way to learn US Geography (warning – it is addictive).

  • 41. momof3boys  |  June 14, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    my kids:
    hs senior- work, swim, and an online course(not sure what)/study for ACT
    hs soph- swim, online course-geometry, swim
    rgc 5th- swim, online course-prob math, swim

    one kid has a nook color so i am thinking that i am going to get the other two their own for the reading. i like the idea that the nook(or other e-readers) can hold a ton of books.

  • 42. kiki h.  |  June 15, 2012 at 8:19 am

    41, what kinds of online courses do your kids do?

  • 43. another cps mom  |  June 15, 2012 at 10:16 am

    My 13yo freshman will be getting out of summer school at 1 p.m. each day. She’ll have to fill her time on her own (and not at home) between 1 and 4 p.m., when her camp starts M-F in Hyde Park. She’s not wonky at all. So, we have no idea what she’s going to do. I would have spent such time in a cool library, but not her. Any ideas? I like the Nook idea (she asked for an iPad today). Maybe an online course? I’m going to look for some kind of volunteer job for her to fill that time — any ideas on that, too? (Again, as I would have spent that time as a teen — and did, at the Shedd.) Maybe load 2-hour movies for her and create a “film appreciation” course? Help! 🙂

  • 44. HS Mom  |  June 15, 2012 at 10:38 am

    @43 Some of the parks have teen camp. A particularly fun one is at Lincoln Park Cultural Center.

  • 45. NotSure88  |  June 15, 2012 at 11:08 am

    43 – what does Wonky mean?

  • 46. NotSure88  |  June 15, 2012 at 11:08 am

    43 I’m sure Chicago Public Libraries would take volunteers

  • 47. another cps mom  |  June 15, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    wonky = in this case,

    1. a student who spends much time studying and has little or no social life; grind.

    3. a person who studies a subject or issue in an excessively assiduous and thorough manner: a policy wonk.

  • 48. another cps mom  |  June 15, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Any ideas for a good summer reading list for a moms+(young)teen-girls book discussions? Maybe I should read the Hunger Games — she already did.

  • 49. another cps mom  |  June 15, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    What would be part of a Freshman Connections program? Maybe I could create one just for my kid?

  • 50. another cps mom  |  June 15, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Finally, after reviewing all above, I think I’m going to plan ways for my kid to apply her academic skills, such as reading (instructions)/math for simple carpentry projects and bike repair, reading/writing for letters to legislators about her causes, mapping for some biking trips, plus media/technology. I think this will be an “applied skills” summer.

  • 51. Public or Private  |  June 16, 2012 at 7:08 am

    @11: “Also, it’s always better to have kids read nonfiction because it’s written at a much higher level than fiction.” My son reads both fiction and nonfiction, and I see absolutely no evidence that nonfiction prose style is superior. Giving your kids only nonfiction is a little like putting them on a quinoa diet: enriching, but ultimately boring.

    As for my tabby-cat-mom summer plans, we’re going to continue to read, go to the museums, and take transportation-themed field trips (there’s nothing like using trains, planes, automobiles and ferries to teach math and physics). No workbooks. No worksheets. No alphabet-soup test prep.

  • 52. Got an avid reader  |  June 16, 2012 at 8:09 am

    I’m not a teacher but managed to turn my kid into a read-aholic. I read to him often when he was young with him next to me or on my lap so that he could see and turn pages. He was entertained by my goofy voices. We started sharing the reading alternating pages or paragraphs until eventually he couldn’t wait for me to be available to move on in the book. I never took a book away from him or pushed him to read a particular book or series (there is so much out there, no need). If he wanted to read a comic book, that was cool. He started reading the Harry Potter books in 2nd grade and loved just carrying a big book around. We spent hours at the bookstore reading and attending story telling events. Purchased our books at the store rather than on-line. Whenever possible, rewarded the book read with going to the movie about the book or watching the video. By doing this he also realized that many times the book is better.

  • 53. Sped Mom  |  June 16, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Didn’t the CPLibraries get rid of their pages and volunteer programs through Emanuel’s budget cuts?

  • 54. anonymouseteacher  |  June 16, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Non-fiction isn’t inherently better than fiction. But, one of the implication of Common Core is a massive shift to much large amounts of reading and testing on non-fiction. Historically, kids don’t read nearly enough non-fiction and test poorly on it. CPS will struggle to place enough non-fiction texts in classrooms because of the cost, so parents really need to push this at home. I can say that in the past, I used to “read aloud” non-fiction to my students about 15% of the time. Next year, I will be moving it closer to 50%. It is super important, the vocabulary is often more difficult and kids who don’t read non-fiction with complete fluency and comprehension (even kids who are reading fiction at high levels) are not going to pass the Common Core test when it arrives in 2014.

  • 55. EdgewaterMom  |  June 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    This question is not related to summer learning, but I wasn’t sure where else to post it. I never received my dd’s NWEA or MAP test results. I emailed the teacher and she told me that the only results that they are able to send home are the ISATs.

    Did anybody else receive their child’s MAP results? Why would this information not be available to parents?

  • 56. OutsideLookingIn  |  June 16, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    @53 – Rahm’s Readers summer reading program started this past Monday at our local library.

  • 57. OutsideLookingIn  |  June 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    @55 – they may not send the results home but I would insist on seeing the results, even if they will only show them to you at school.

  • 58. Sped Mom  |  June 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    @ 55. EdgewaterMom: I got my kid’s spring MAP scores at the annual IEP meeting recently. They’re available relatively quickly, or at least that’s the promise of the MAP test. MAP didn’t include any writing assessment. We get our own thorough neuropsych eval almost every year (out of our own pocket) b/c ISATs stink (and it appears that MAP can be hinky for kids w/ disabilities), FWIW.

  • 59. OutsideLookingIn  |  June 17, 2012 at 7:58 am

    @58 – where do you go for your child’s neuro-psych evaluation?

  • 60. Sped Mom  |  June 17, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    I recommend heading down to Roger Stefani of Chicago NeuroBehavior Specialists in Orland Park. CPS respects his work, too, if you get a smart OSS staffer.

  • 61. Jen  |  June 18, 2012 at 1:40 am

    I have my daughter working on some summer math and comprehension workbooks I picked up at Costco, partly because I’m secretly hoping we’ll get a call from CPS about a gifted place, and partly because I’m hoping to get a mid-year grade skip if we have to stay at our current school another year.

    She’s also doing our local library’s summer reading program (she has to read 20 books), her school’s program (1 hr per day) and the Barnes & Noble program (8 books). Her usual non-fiction books range from looking after guinea pigs to how to draw dinosaurs. She gets books about space, books about countries, cookbooks, there are so many options. It’s actually harder to find fiction books because she’s read most of the appropriately themed ones for her age.

    We’re also doing the MSI program (the free ticket will come in handy), and she’s still doing some Brainpop Jr now and then.

    Our suburban school sent the MAP test results home on the last day of school FWIW, as they did with the fall ones before the holidays.

  • 62. slackermom  |  June 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I just wanted to comment on going ahead in math. When my oldest was in 6th grade the kids came home all excited because they were using a 7th grade math book. At the open house the teachers said they just didn’t like the 6th grade book and there was a lot of repetition between the 6th and 7th grade books (or was it 5th and 6th- I don’t remember). So while it is advanced work these 3rd grade options kids are doing I am fairly sure that things will somewhat even out in the not so distant future.

    My kids come from a liberal arts background family (i.e. math is NOT a strong suit) and right now we are really struggling on where to place my oldest for math next year. I don’t think she is ready for algebra but I also don’t want her being the only kid not repeating algebra because they couldn’t pass the placement test in high school. If we weren’t in the crazy CPS system and we had any kind of idea where she was going to high school in 9th grade it would help with the decision but she could really end up anywhere.

    As to the rest of summer activities we are general slacker parents. My kids will go to camps, hang out at home, hopefully spend a lot of time at pools, etc. We will sign up for summer reading and the oldest will have math tutoring but that’s it.

  • 63. Lasalle II parent  |  June 18, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    going to city college for summer 3-4th grade math class 2 hours a week. cheap $78 at Westside Techincal. They have a schedule for every grade over the summer.
    Mexican Museum for arts camp and then the pool.

    Did not get Nwea scores for spring. they are usually stapled to report card. fortunately my kid blurts out her score when I picked her up from school on the day of testing.

  • 64. SutherlandParent  |  June 18, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    @55, we got the NWEA AMPS scores sent home with final report cards, along with ISAT scores. It says they were “created on June 11, 2012.” Is that the same thing as MAPS? Sigh. I hate all this standardized testing so much, I probably don’t pay enough attention to anything except the ISATs.

  • 65. Nathan  |  June 18, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    My kids are younger (5 and almost 3), but I find math easy to work on. We play UNO a lot, the younger one learns numbers, matching, etc, and I make the older add the number on his card to the previous card as he plays. I also play games with the older while his sister is napping and make him keep his own score (we were doing multi-place addition today while he was killing me at Qwirkle). When we’re out, we also count everything (e.g., red cars, now add those to the green cars, etc.) This probably gets harder with older kids / more complex math, but math is everywhere if you look for it.

    We have a much harder time with reading. My kids will sit and listen to me read all day (esp. the older). He is a good reader and spends a lot of time looking at books but getting him to read is usually a fight. Any suggestions?

  • 66. anonymouse teacher  |  June 18, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    @66, does he like comics? Or, if he is opposed to reading to you, does he like to write? He can practice his reading through writing. You can also leave him little notes, secret messages, treasure hunt things, etc. As well, if you write a short easily decodable story about him, he may be more apt to read it. There is a book out there called Games for Reading, I think the author’s last name is Kaye. I can’t remember now. I’d say, since he is five, and is pushing back a little, try to find ways to make it fun, but if he still resists, just back off a little.
    For sight words, if he is open, you can write them on slips of paper and hide them in plastic eggs around the house and have him read them when he finds them. You can also play sight word bingo and sight word memory match.
    When my kids were little I’d ask them to read all the signs that were posted all over the city. Also, when reading aloud, I had my son, who was a terribly reluctant reader, read one or two sentences per book that I read aloud to him.
    Hope that helps a little.

  • 67. IB obsessed  |  June 18, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    He’s only 5, so don’t push the independent reading if he doesn’t want to. It will come naturally as he develops a love of books. Keep reading to him. Kids learn alot about context, word meaning and plot by being read to that they can’t get from reading on their own.

  • 68. cpsobsessed  |  June 18, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    I agree about the reading. It’s sort of like getting them to try new foods. Have it around and keep letting them taste it. My son was a “reluctant reader” too which just was killing his dad and me. But slowly he found things that he enjoyed (Captain Underpants, Wimpy Kid, etc.) I kept comics and other books just sitting in the car all the time. At some point boredom kicks in and they’ll pick it up. Still prefers to be read to, but at age 8 finally started picking up books voluntarily. And over time does it more and more on his own. I gotta hand it to the Wimpy Kid author. He made a big impact.

    I also love the story of Dav Pilkey, auther of Captian Underpants. He was a total goofoff in school, always getting in trouble, never got good grades. Is probably a multi-millionaire by now. You never know how they’ll turn out.

  • 69. OutsideLookingIn  |  June 19, 2012 at 12:30 am

    My child is a struggling and reluctant reader who stubbornly thwarted every attempt to learn or practice reading in pre-K through K. Child actually ripped down signs I’d posted around the house to label everyday objects. Kindergarten teacher finally told me to just keep reading aloud to her and stop forcing the issue. So I did.

    Eventually my child began trying to decode graffiti, and that was what opened the door. One day while walking down the street she asked me, why did someone write “I heart dads” on that wall? After explaining that the d’s were actually b’s, and that the two o’s in the middle made an “oo” sound, she still wasn’t able to sound it out. My exasperated spouse finally jumped in and cried “It says, I heart boobs!”. Kid couldn’t stop laughing.

    Backing off seemed to help increase child’s desire to cooperate. Although the process is still rough, it is getting better.

    After a year of interventions, we’re doing a full court press of additional interventions this summer. I don’t understand why it is such a struggle for my child but hope to see improvement at the end of the summer.

    I envy the folks who are just fighting the summer slide.

  • 70. Jen  |  June 19, 2012 at 7:58 am

    The public library is a great place to let your kid look at all the different kinds of books and find something they might actually want to read. I resisted the library for a long time (it does gross me out slightly) but I couldn’t afford to keep buying books and I don’t have the space for any more!

  • 71. SA mom  |  June 19, 2012 at 10:55 am

    There are some great links posted here — thanks!
    As far as the reading goes…I was and am a major bookworm. My kids (14 and 10) are not. I tried everything, esp buying all the books I loved as a kid. My daughter finally started reading with interest around age 11 when I got her the old-school Judy Blume books. I still push it but have to accept the fact that some kids are just not readers.
    I also wouldn’t worry about the content too terribly much. When I was 13 I LOVED all those garbage Flowers in the Attic series. Right now my 14 yr old reads the Ellen Hopkins’s books. Not my fav, but…
    The museum circuit is important to us too. We do it on the cheap. I work at one so get in free to the rest but with the library pass I think you can also go for free. We go in the afternoon, after the toddlers have gone home, and after lunch (so I don’t have to buy it!) and also usually take the bus to avoid the high parking fees.
    My older daughter also has a season pass to Great America. There is a Pace bus that runs from the Blue Line directly to GA. Unfortunately only operates Fri-Sun but it is a way for her to get there with her friends.

  • 72. Confused99  |  June 19, 2012 at 11:25 am

    61 – little confused, you’re hoping for a CPS gifted program but also mention suburban school. Where do you live?

  • 73. another CPS mom  |  June 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    We use longer chapter books on tape (CD) for the car rides to and from day camp. Really helped my reading-hating kid at least become more culturally literate.

  • 74. IB obsessed  |  June 19, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    The Dear Dumb Diary serious is similar to Captain Underpants/Wimpy kids, but for older (maybe 4th grade?) girls. They still crack up my 6th grader.

  • 75. IB obsessed  |  June 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    series, not serious

  • 76. MCBG  |  June 19, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Call me terrible, but in order to get my 1st grader to read , I simply go and turn off the TV and bring out a bin of books on his level-I basically MAKE them read.At first it’s a lot of whining, but once they start it is fine.I also tell them certain things are off limits if they don’t succumb.I know it seems harsh, but I believe in no nonsense parenting, “you don’t have a choice kiddo”.They will reap the benefits later; doing what’s good for us isn’t always easy, kind of like taking vitamins or exercising-JUST DO IT!

  • 77. IB obsessed  |  June 19, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    I believe in you don’t have a choice kiddo regarding things like taking vitamins and teeth brushing. ‘Just do it’ is necessary. Don’t want my kid to view reading as in the same category as boring things you are forced to do because your mom makes you. Not sure that will create a life long desire to read. However, I do have that attitude with math practice, so maybe I don’t have a leg to stand on here….but it’s not possible to ‘read aloud’ to your kid with math.

  • 78. cpsobsessed  |  June 19, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    We had a similar math conversation tonight. My son wanted to do fun online games which is fine for math facts but I don’t know how fun you can make double digit multiplication etc.

    It’s slow going with Mommy Math Camp here.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 79. RLJulia  |  June 20, 2012 at 7:28 am

    @43 – if your daughter is in Hyde Park she might try volunteering a couple times a week at the Robie House (Shannon Greve is the coordinator) or Blackstone Bikes or with a group called Experimental Station that runs farmer’s markets – or check out Little Black Pearl – I think they used to do some art class type stuff.

  • 80. IB obsessed  |  June 20, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Non-fiction for ages 8 and up (but older kids like them too) : Interactive history adventure books. Here’s one, but there are many other titles

  • 81. Nichole  |  July 2, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Hi All! I am a CPS preschool teacher (Hamilton Elementary School) participating in an archaeological dig in Ashkelon, Israel. As part of my work here I maintain a blog for kids that includes videos of what is happening in the field, discussions with archaeologists, and critical thinking/archaeological simulation activities for kids age 3-8. The hope is that we can use what we are learning through the blog in developing a critical thinking/inferencing/process based learning social studies curriculum for little ones. If you are looking for something educational and engaging to do daily with your little one this might be the thing, and I would great appreciate the different perspectives and ideas. The site is:
    Hope to have you all in the conversation!

  • 82. Sped Mom  |  July 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    How are all the summer enrichment or academic practice plans coming along?

  • 83. anonymouse teacher  |  July 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    For us, better than expected. Our kids love video games, so we set up a system where they can either do math work and or read for an hour a day and earn up to an hour of video games that way. Between that, the camps,and the fun trips to the museums or the zoo or wherever, I think we are set.

  • 84. OutsideLookingIn  |  July 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    We’ve maintained a good balance so far this summer with daily practice in math and reading. Child is really struggling with reading so that’s been rough. My normally tough-as-nails third grade kid has been reduced to tears over a first grade level reading computer game. Fortunately she’s experienced heightened success in several non-academic areas, so at least that’s helped keep up her self-confidence.

  • 85. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 8, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Normal. We aren’t doing much academics. I want them to have a fun summer. They are playing tennis in the every morning & they golf. They’ve been to 6 White Sox games. They have to read abt 2hrs a day and play their instruments for an hour. Vaca is at the end of the month and they are looking forward to that.

    That being said, both boys are str8 A students, if they needed any academic to help, they would be doing things of that nature.

    Both boys work really hard during the school year and don’t go out much during that time, except for some clubs music lessons & sports. I just want them to be kids and have a fun summer!

  • 86. IB obsessed  |  July 8, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Received an email from our private last week. There is a required 20 page math packet (review from last year) that will be graded and counted toward their math grade.(middle schoolers) Work must be shown. Due first day of school. I’m glad. I confess we had done nothing so far. This carries much more authority than any I would set up. No arguments,because it just has to be done.

  • 87. Jen  |  July 9, 2012 at 10:52 am

    @72 sorry I didn’t see your comment until today! We live in Lake Bluff but would move to the city for a gifted spot (which we’re not getting this year, they’re all taken for 3rd grade). Our small village school doesn’t have a gifted program, and we can’t afford any of the private schools (there aren’t any near us anyway).

  • 88. Tired+Hot  |  July 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    “boys are str8 A students”…………………………………
    mentioned every blog. . . .

  • 89. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    #88~that’s bc it’s 1) true and 2) I’m proud!

  • 90. Sped Mom  |  July 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Our kid is reading novels without prodding and listening to music, when not at school and camps. This is all.

    No interest in any other academic work. Not getting any homework. Not doing test prep.

  • 91. Mom-E  |  July 27, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Any suggestions for a kid who needs to take the Selective Enrollment Exam in the fall?

  • 92. Even One More CPS Mom  |  January 24, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Help! I could use some recommendations for summer camps/classes for a straight A but not testing in the “gifted” category boy who will be between 1st and 2nd grade this summer (age 6/7). I love what I have read and heard about the Northwestern and Center for Gifted programs but alas, I really don’t think my student would qualify as those programs require/suggest that students should be in the 95th+ percentile on standardized tests. NWEA results for kindergarten and 1st grade have generally fallen in the 85th to 90th percentile range. So, what is out there for the bright student who needs some fun and creative academic stimulation over the summer but who does not quite meet the criteria for the “gifted” summer programs? We do not need full day programs so half day programs are fine as well as weekly classes. Student’s interests are all over the map and always willing to try something new. Any and all recommendations are welcome! Thank you!!!!!

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