Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.
School vacation can be a great time for family fun. Here are some simple ways to keep young children productively engaged, using all five senses (note that these activities can be enjoyed either at home or away on vacation):
If at home, check the schedule at your local library. Many have special reading events planned, or other activities that could be of interest to your child.
On your cell phone, or other recording device, let your child read and record a short story or poem for you, a grandparent, or other family member. This helps a young reader hear his own reading fluency.
If weather permits take a “nature walk” in your neighborhood, local park, or vacation destination. Gather samples of leaves, pinecones, acorns, flowers, shells etc., and glue them to construction paper for a nature collage.
With small objects such as Legos, pennies, or small rocks, play with the different ways to make a total of “10.” (9+1; 5+5; 6+4; etc.). When she masters the various ways to make “10,” addition and subtraction will become much more automatic. This dramatically helps improve math fluency and accuracy.
Play a guessing game. With eyes closed have him guess what an object is by its smell. Scratch an orange, peel an onion, squeeze a lemon, unwrap a Hershey’s Kiss, or sniff a favorite pickle! Tally his correct guesses.
Keep a daily “vacation journal.” In a small notebook, paste post cards, photographs, or simply draw pictures of your family’s activities for that day. Next, have your child write short sentences to describe the pictures. Help her write the sentences, if needed. This can become a treasured family vacation keepsake.
With simple creativity, winter break can be a fun yet constructive week for young students!