Relaxing Summer -Homeschool living - sipping drink on a hammock

The Dog Days of Summer

Have you ever wondered where this phrase comes from? You might be surprised to find out that it doesn’t actually have anything to do with real dogs! In ancient Rome, the hottest, most humid days of the summer were thought to be due to the star Sirius, or the “Dog Star.” Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky, and the ancient Romans thought that this star radiated so much heat during a period of the summer that they named these days “diēs caniculārēs” or “dog days.” The Old Farmer’s Almanac traditionally designates the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11 as the “dog days,” coinciding with the heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius.

You may choose to break over the summer in your homeschool, or you may continue structured lessons year-round. Isn’t that the beauty of homeschooling? You can choose the learning structure that best fits your family.

Read on and explore a variety of summer activities that highlight science, language, and home economics skills, with a healthy dose of good, old-fashioned fun! Whether you use the following ideas to sneak some “school” into the break, or to supplement your lessons with some fun, summer activities, there’s something here for everyone.

And, if the origins of the “dog days of summer” piqued your interest, don’t forget to check out next week’s Homeschool Living–“Light Up the Sky!: Stars, Comets, and Meteors.”


Summer Science

Inspiration Laboratories features a simple instructable for turning ordinary play sand into an even more fun sensory experience–kinetic play sand–with a summery, watermelon twist.

Bright blue skies and summer thunderstorms offer an excellent opportunity to study and identify a wide variety of clouds. Try this super simple cloud inspector tool from The Techy Teacher to help your students identify and record the clouds they see.

Spend an afternoon making and flying a kite for an inexpensive, yet thrilling, family activity. Explore the physics of aerodynamics to improve your kite-flying skills.


Summer Reading

Check out this “Dog Days of Summer Reading Plan” for some excellent ways to make summertime reading a fun family activity.

These “8 Ways to Encourage Summer Reading” from Thinker Builder include some interesting and unconventional ways to help encourage and track summer reading progress.

Check out some great summer reading programs–for all ages–that may help inspire reluctant readers.

Don’t forget that one of the best tips for encouraging a behavior is to model it to your children! If you need a meaningful addition to your own summer reading list, you might check out something from this summer reading list for the homeschool mom from Through Clouded Glass. (Note that HEAV does not necessarily endorse any of these books and that they may represent philosophies that differ from your own.)

Summer Food

Hiking adventures, days at the pool, lazy afternoon at home are all perfect opportunities to try out a new, healthy snack idea. These three simple snack ideas are simple enough for kids to help plan and prep, and a nice alternative to more traditional snacks.

There’s nothing like the taste of homemade root beer! Even if you have an apparatus to facilitate “forced carbonation,” forgo it for this once and try this recipe which includes yeast and sugar for carbonation. (Filling the bottles is a fun, messy project best done outside, if possible.) This project also provides an excellent opportunity to learn about that fascinating organism–yeast!

Whether you are an old hand at canning or considering “putting up” some summer favorites for the first time, check out these ten ways kids can help with canning to incorporate some mini lessons in math and science, and gain some extra pairs of helping hands in the kitchen. If you’re looking for some food preservation inspiration, The Domestic WIldflower shares five kid-friendly canning recipes here.

Summer Fun

There’s no need to plan exotic–and hectic–getaways in order to spend some quality family time over the summer break. There are tons of free and inexpensive ways to fill the days with summer fun!

Does anyone else remember making these pony bead lizards as a kid? Even if you don’t, they were tons of fun and your crafty kids will love making these for–and with–their friends. The two supplies necessary are fairly inexpensive, so they can create armies of these things for very little cost. They’ll also exercise some logic skills as they start applying the techniques used for making these little critters to begin designing their own creations.

Nothing says “lazy summer afternoon” like a taking a glass of iced tea and a good book to your backyard hammock. But what if you don’t have one? Check out these tutorials–which use a range of materials and building styles–and engage the family in creating the new favorite backyard retreat!

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