Beyond the Book: Tips for Summer Homeschooling

ocean beach

I know, right? Who wants to think about homeschooling when it’s hot as h-e-double-hockey-sticks? Turns out, you can help your kids cool off…and teach them a little something at the same time. Sneaky, huh? Our author Alison Bernhoft has been thinking about this. You can read Entropy Academy, her memoir of a homeschooling family, while the kids while away a hot afternoon with a little surreptitious science. Read more from Alison, below!

“Who goes out in the midday sun?
“Mad dogs and Englishmen”
This little couplet runs through my brain every year when the temperature in SoCal inches towards 100 and I recall the land of my birth. There, in the halcyon days before the climate went berserk and triple digits invading Buckingham Palace became almost commonplace, something quite extraordinary happened: pretty much any time the sun put in an appearance, no matter how brief, every piece of turf, no matter how minuscule, was instantly covered with sweating bodies roasting painful shades of reddish pink, slowly turning as if on an invisible communal spit. “Carpe solem” might be their motto: seize the sun.
Let us now leave my ex-countrymen, and turn instead to the suburban back yards of the US where the cry rings out, “I’m too hot, Mom, it’s too ho-o-t, Mom, MOM, I said, ITS TOO HOT!” (As if the current heatwave had been entirely mom’s idea . . .) Here are a few of my favorite things to do with hot, crotchety children:

  • Set the little ones loose to “paint” the driveway, the flowers, and each other with paint brushes and water.
  • Put two buckets of water on the grass (or any thirsty ground) with measuring cups, empty yogurt pots, plastic toys, and ping pong balls (hold them underwater and let go – whose will shoot highest into the air?)
  • Buy some cheap synthetic bath sponges, hold them underwater, then SPLOSH! Wettest game of catch EVER!
  • Give each child a 2-liter soda bottle full of water, and see who can empty theirs fastest. Is it quicker to twirl and shake the bottle or simply hold it still?
  • Teach them a little anatomy. Where does blood flow closest to the skin’s surface? Fill a bucket with cold water and give each child a wash cloth to dip in it. Have them slosh the wet cloths on various body parts – knees, shoulders, feet, the back of the neck, tummy . . . Eventually, help them notice that a wet cloth on the back of the neck is a dynamite cooler-offer. Why? Because blood flow to and from  the all-important head all passes through the neck, where veins lie close to the surface. Can they make an ice-filled sock cooler that will stay tied around their necks as the ice cubes melt in a delectable, icy trickle?
  • Think ahead: put containers of your own devising filled with water in the freezer overnight (just for fun, add a little oil to one and see what happens.) Melt them in the sun, in shade, in water. Which is fastest?
  • For a grand finale, have everyone dip their heads into the bucket, then SHAKE like a mad dog.
    But please, whatever you do, stay out of the midday sun!