Summer Learning: How to create a family storybook

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Summer Break is here, and our thoughts are revolving around words like vacation, relaxation, rest, getaway, and so on!  Words like homework, project, and assignment instantly turn into bad-words the minute summer vacation begins, so I encourage you to avoid them at all costs!  Instead, try to generate creative ways to keep your child/children actively involved in writing, reading, and processing information over the break.  One way to keep all these language arts skills at the forefront in a covert way is to develop family storybooks

Family storybooks are similar to reflective journaling yet different because they are created through group effort!  Topic areas are limitless because the stories can be written on just about anything!  (Examples include: Our Day at the Zoo, Cleaning Day!, The Cruise of a Lifetime, etc.)  No storybook will ever be complete until every person submits their entry.  It will be up to you to pick and choose the number of storybooks your family will create over the summer break!  All you have to do is introduce the activity and provide the encouragement.  Your participation will set an excellent example for your kids, and the final product will be a keepsake for everyone to enjoy now and forever! 

Here are the steps involved:

1. Explain the concept of the family storybook prior to the activity.

2. Encourage children to pay close attention to details during the event so they will be able to describe them in writing later.

3. Take digital pictures before, during, and after the event (if possible), and allow each participant to choose pictures to include with their writing.  Of course, pictures can also be drawn or painted; get creative! 

4. Encourage each child to write as much as they can about the experience, including personal thoughts and feelings.

5. Set a deadline for the individual drafts to be completed and pictures to be selected.

6. Combine everyone’s story in a logical order (example: youngest to oldest) and place them in a notebook, report binder, or digital file.

7. Enjoy reading each family storybook individually and/or together. 

8. Share your family storybooks with others!

It’s a fact that each person perceives their surroundings by seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling.  Accordingly, everyone’s experience will be unique to them, and it will be fun to see and read varying accounts of the same event.  After the first family storybook is completed, subsequent storybooks will usually become easier and more detailed!  The best part about the activity will be that you and your family will be engaged in writing, reading, and information processing all summer long!  Family storybooks will be a unique memento that will capture moments in time to enjoy a lifetime!  This could become a new summer tradition!  Whatever you do, have fun with it!

Comment /Source

Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. 

Summer Learning: Developing Your Child's Communication Skills

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Have you ever thought of scheduling a weekly family meeting during the summer months? It really is a great way to boost communication skills at home! Kids of all ages, when given the chance, can participate in structured discussions to recap the previous week and plan for the next one. Routine meetings can allow everyone to contribute personal thoughts, feelings, ideas, choices, etc., so that everyone has an opportunity to be heard.  Topic possibilities are endless, yet providing this type of platform can build family connections and help children develop their personal communication skills.

Here’s how it works:

1. Pick a time which you set aside to conduct the weekly family meetings this summer.  It can be some time on the weekend or whatever works with your family’s schedule.  The point is to plan the time into your schedule so your children can look forward to having a special time to express themselves.

2. Work together to name the time set apart to meet. (Example:  The Johnson Council)  Create an official sign using the chosen name, and display it during family meetings!

3. Assign an office to each contributing family member.  Making the meeting time more formal can be fun for your children and also introduce them to the structure of a public meeting forum.  Here’s an example:

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4. Create an agenda for your meeting time.  Include a recap of the last meeting, a budget discussion by the treasurer, weekly stars, and weekly wishes that are ideas for the upcoming week.  (A “star” would be something that is working well in your schedule; a “wish” would be something that will continually change.)  Example:

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Providing your children with an opportunity to participate in a weekly family meeting during the summer months can sharpen their communication skills.  Meetings can coax reluctant speakers with a venue to express themselves as well as supply more vocal children with a vehicle to communicate in a safe, controlled environment.  Everyone can have a chance to contribute, and you might be surprised by what you will learn during these discussions. 

 

True Story:  (If I may share a short story with you from my own childhood, it might help you think about your own communication habits within your family.)

While I was in grade school, my mother used to braid my tremendously long hair in two braids every single day. Unbeknownst to her, the other kids would tease me about my braids, which of course mortified me.  I was embarrassed and would have preferred not wearing my hair that way, but in my shy obedience to my mom, I never said a word about it to her.

Imagine my surprise years later when I mentioned this period of my growing up years to her.  I will never forget her saying, “All you had to do was tell me. You didn’t have to wear your hair that way.”  …Wait! …All I had to do was tell her?! Ugh! 

My mother’s words opened a window in my mind to the value of communication.

Is there a shy, obedient child in your family that might benefit from a weekly time to express what is on his or her mind?  Do you have a more expressive child that needs structure and guidance to speak in an orderly way? Perhaps a weekly family meeting this summer could be just the tool your family needs to build communication skills.

 

Comment /Source

Cindy Goeden

Cindy Goeden has enjoyed being involved with Shurley English for the last sixteen of her twenty-six years in the field of education.  Working with various levels of students in elementary, junior, and high schools, in both the private and public arenas, Cindy surely is thankful for the providential day that she was introduced to Shurley English, which changed forever her approach to Language Arts instruction. That has led to her current job of having the joy of sharing about Shurley with other educators.  Her love of learning has prodded her to earn over two hundred and twenty hours, which includes two bachelor degrees in education.

 

Cindy currently lives with her husband, Donald, in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she enjoys puttering in her flowers, changing up her décor with the seasons, and occasionally getting out and traveling with Donald to either explore a new beach or view historic sights and gardens.

Spend your summer at the library!

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I fondly recall the summers I spent taking my son to the local library when he was young.  I can still remember his excitement as he perused the library shelves, looking for just the right books to take home to read.  Those weekly trips were part of our routine, and we both looked forward to them with anticipation!

Did you know that many libraries across the nation create summer reading programs for children?  I know that my local library hosts an incentive system where kids can earn points for reading books.  Those points can be used to redeem great prizes that students can use and enjoy.  Another special opportunity that’s offered is designed to encourage parental involvement. In this program, parents are given points for each book they read with or to their child.  Once an entire card is filled with book titles, parents can redeem points for prizes they can use and enjoy.  I personally believe that summer library reading programs like these are invaluable because of the life-long love of reading my son and I still relish today.

I’m sharing this information with you now because some libraries are offering really cool prizes this summer!  It’s not too late to get started!  Here are just a few examples I found:

  • Students can earn points to win prizes.
  • Students can earn points to win restaurant vouchers.
  • Students can earn points for admission to local attractions.
  • Students can enter a drawing for a college savings account.

How long has it been since you visited a library with your child? There are numerous incentives out there, so find out what’s going on at your local library today!  Your child can enjoy a fun summer program where the more they read, the more they will earn! You might find a great book to check out and read too!  It’s truly a win-win for everyone!  Take it from me; the benefits of a summer library reading program can be big enough to last a lifetime!

Comment /Source

Cindy Goeden

Cindy Goeden has enjoyed being involved with Shurley English for the last sixteen of her twenty-six years in the field of education.  Working with various levels of students in elementary, junior, and high schools, in both the private and public arenas, Cindy surely is thankful for the providential day that she was introduced to Shurley English, which changed forever her approach to Language Arts instruction. That has led to her current job of having the joy of sharing about Shurley with other educators.  Her love of learning has prodded her to earn over two hundred and twenty hours, which includes two bachelor degrees in education.

 

Cindy currently lives with her husband, Donald, in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she enjoys puttering in her flowers, changing up her décor with the seasons, and occasionally getting out and traveling with Donald to either explore a new beach or view historic sights and gardens.