I swear as I was waking up on Monday morning, I had the Black-Eyed Peas singing “Let’s Get it Started” in my head. In other words, I was pumped up about launching Mommy Summer School. On Sunday night as I was putting Luke and Noah to bed, I started getting them jazzed up by giving them some clues about the theme of the week, letting them know that I had special surprises in store for them… They were hooked! Then I snuck downstairs to the dining room and set up this centerpiece to greet them when they came down for breakfast on Day 1:
Their response in the morning was SO fun to watch! Of course, Luke kept repeating, “I just KNEW it was going to be superheroes, Mommy! You need to give harder clues.” Geez. Anyway, I am definitely going to repeat the “centerpiece reveal” each Monday when we start new themes. We even used superhero cups for our daily apple juice just to make things a little more “festive”:
After breakfast was over, we hit the ground running. Here is how I’ve chosen to structure each day:
Morning Meeting–This will take place right after breakfast and everyone is dressed for the day. This time will be about 10 minutes and will mostly consist of some general discussion centered around a Question of the Day…some kind of idea to get their brains working and thinking about our topic. Each day we will briefly review what we discussed the previous day, then we will move on to the current day’s question. To make it feel “school-like”, I assigned the boys a special seat (a bean bag chair for Luke and a kid-sized rocker for Noah) on the area rug in our basement play area, and I sat in a bigger “teacher chair” in front of them. I have armed myself with lots of large white paper and a Sharpie for this time of our day so I can record the ideas that we generate, but if I had a small white board easel, I would totally use that just like I’ve seen Luke’s kindergarten teacher do in his class.
The Question of the Day for Day 1 was “What makes a superhero?” Here is the list of responses that the boys and I generated together:
AM Activity–We are at the pool for Noah’s swim lessons every day at 11am, so we have roughly an hour and a half to two hours for our daily AM Activity. Since Noah is joining us for this part of the day, I am sticking to art projects/crafts, cooking projects, or games/puzzles. In our MM discussion, I loved how the boys ended with ideas related to what superheroes wear–I couldn’t have set up a more perfect transition at the end of the list into our next segment which was to make no-sew felt superhero capes, masks, wrist cuffs, and belts. Now, let me just tell you now that this requires a lot of work on your part. I knew that Noah being 3 wasn’t going to be of much help at all, but I thought that Luke at least would be able to handle cutting out various shapes and designs drawn on felt. No deal. He did one shape, it took him forever, and he complained that it was too hard to cut out of such a thick “thing” and asked repeatedly why we weren’t just cutting it all out of paper. (I will not share the snarky reply I made to him about what happens when superheroes wear costumes made out of paper.) I had at least cut out the base of the capes the night before, but I only went that far because I really wanted the boys to design their items. Noah, being my more adventurous risk-taker-kid, opted for his own original design to represent, in his own words: “Super Noah who runs really fast.” Whereas Luke, who usually tends to stay in the familiar, wanted to go straight up Batman all the way. I did manage to talk him into putting an S and an L on his wrist cuffs to stand for “Super Luke”.
So here’s the quick and dirty tutorial on the costumes…
- 1 yard black felt (bought middle-of-the-road quality felt @ $4.99/yard from JoAnn Fabric)
- 1/4 yard yellow felt
- 1/4 yard red felt
- 1/4 yard white felt
- Fabric Fusion 3/4 inch x 1 inch velcro (no-sew velcro that you adhere with your iron) for the capes, the wrist cuffs, and the belts
- 1 package of 1/4 inch thick black elastic for the mask straps
- 2 packages of Heat ‘N Bond Ultrahold (Each package was 1 yard; with all that I did, I never even opened the 2nd package and even had a little left over from the 1st package. If you are like me and had never heard of Heat ‘N Bond, it is brilliant for those of us who are sewing illiterate. Here is a quick tutorial on YouTube that I watched to make sure I knew what I was doing, although I found the instructions on the package to be very easy.)
Total Amount Spent: $18 (far cheaper than buying two sets of store-bought items, for sure!)
Instructions for the Mask: I traced this template that I found online onto the felt. I wanted to be able to put the elastic on the mask without sewing, so I actually cut out two masks for each boy, put the elastic in between the two felt pieces, then adhered them together using the Heat ‘N Bond. I measured each boy’s head for the elastic strap then deducted about an inch and a half to ensure that the elastic wouldn’t be too loose on their heads. Side note: I used a white crayon to trace/draw everything on the black felt. Worked really well. Just used a pencil for the other colors of felt. Since the masks seemed like a smaller step in the costume-making process, I did these first. Plus I knew that the boys would get excited about the rest of the project if they had something to wear fairly immediately. Total pay-off. They were already running around playing superheroes just with the masks, and I felt like a total rock star mom that I the first piece had actually turned out!!!
Instructions for the Cape: I used the measurements ONLY from this blog. Scroll down until you come to the line “Here is my final pattern” and then a picture. Allow me to insert right here that after the capes were completed and I put them on the boys, I immediately noticed that they were way too wide for my boys up by their shoulders. This could be due to the fact that I didn’t have enough of a curve going from the bottom to the top of the cape. Nevertheless, I ended up cutting about 2 inches off of each side of the cape running from the top to the bottom, so I didn’t end up following the 13.5 inch width shown on the pattern. Again, I used Heat ‘N Bond to adhere the appliques that the boys wanted on the backs of the capes and the no-sew velcro to keep the capes closed around their necks. Luke then wanted me to cut a zig-zag edge along the bottom of the cape so it would look like a Batman cape he once saw. Of course then Noah wanted his zig-zagged, too.
Instructions for the Belt and Wrist Cuffs: This was a good way to end the project because they were SO easy. I just wrapped felt around each boy’s wrist and waist for measurements, marked them with my pencil, then cut out basic rectangles for the wrist cuffs and long strips for the belts. Just like the capes, I used Heat ‘N Bond to apply some designs, then two pieces of velcro to hold the belt closed and one piece of velcro for each wrist cuff. Simple.
Saying that the boys were thrilled with their costumes would be an understatement. They wore them pretty much all day, had me hang hooks in the play area wall so they can hang their costumes up when they’re “off duty”, and asked me to give them a 10 minute warning before Daddy got home from work so they could put their costumes on to surprise him! So cute. When they both wanted to wear their new outfits for breakfast the next day, I knew it was worth the three hours it took me from start to finish! By the way, in case you’re wondering what the boys were doing while I was tracing, cutting, adhering, etc., they watched Despicable Me during part of my crafting (a family favorite!) because they said that Gru becomes a hero in the end, then I finished it up during Noah’s naptime while Luke was doing his Quiet Time Activities. Speaking of which, that is the next phase of our daily routine. While Noah naps, I don’t prefer Luke to be going outside to play with friends or have friends inside to play because it’s distracting to Noah hearing the door opening and closing so many times. So this is the time of the day when I can pull up a chair alongside Luke if need be and really zero in on reading, writing, and math with him. Here’s what we did on Day 1:
- Reading: Introduced the special sight words for the week which I posted on a memo board in the kids’ basement art area. Luke made some good connections, such as “brave” and save” rhyming, “speed” looking like “seed” without the p, etc.
- Writing: Luke wrote out what I entitled “Superhero ABCs”. Down the left side of a piece of paper, he wrote the alphabet both uppercase and lowercase letters. Then next to each letter of the alphabet, he had to write a word that started with that letter and had something to do with superheroes. He was allowed to use the special sight words if he wanted to. For many of the letters, he wrote a superhero’s name (Batman, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, etc.), but he threw in some other interesting ones as well, like x-ray vision and ZAP! Clever little bugger. Even though he begged, I tried not to help him with his spelling too much so that he was employing good sound spelling. This activity also gave me a good opportunity to review the difference in capitalizing proper nouns and common nouns since he chose to write a lot of names.
- Math: Reviewed basic addition 0-10 by using some easy online printables that I found here. Obviously I printed the superhero ones. Luke enjoyed coloring the superheroes on the worksheets after he solved the math problems. Luke did the first two addition worksheets listed on the site.
Evening Review: This is the final part of our daily routine and again is just for Luke. This is when he completes a few pages in his Summer Bridge Workbook that I referenced in the previous post. The book is broken into three major sections, one for each of the three traditional months of summer. Each section includes daily activities for 20 days plus bonus activities. Since we missed the month of June, my plan was to have Luke do two days of activities every day for the next two weeks to catch up on the first section then do the same for completing Section II during the last two weeks of July. This kid absolutely LOVES this workbook. He is obsessed with continuing on and loves giving himself a sticker on each day that he completes (sticker sheet in the back of the workbook–yes!). He started the workbook only two days ago and has already completed the entire first section and caught up to where we should be in Section II…30 days worth of activities in two days. I have been really impressed so far with the workbook. I was just looking for a basic review of skills, but it even includes character development activities, science experiments, outdoor learning, and fitness flashes every few pages. Luke gets a kick out of finishing math problems or writing words and then getting to do arm circles for 30 seconds or three push-ups or 10 lunges. It ties in so nicely with our superhero theme as even Luke has observed, “Hey, I’m training to get strong just like a real hero!” I don’t now how I’m going to restrict him to just one day’s activities from here on out! As an aside, the outdoor activities and science activities look really fun and don’t require a lot of time or materials. I have already roped Daddy in and have asked him to continue the learning fun over the weekends by doing these activities with the boys. Great way to get him involved in this whole thing!
Ok, that was a GINORMOUS post. Yikes. I hope I didn’t just lose all hope of having any readers in the future! The next posts won’t be as long because our activities weren’t as involved as the superhero costumes. I was going to go ahead and post Days 2 and 3 in one sitting, but my fingers and brain are a little tuckered out now! Bedtime…