New Feature: Monthly Links

I'm going to try a new feature at the end of each month to highlight helpful blog posts or articles I've run across. Since we've just finished school, the theme this month is Summer!

May Links: Summertime, Summertime!

At the beginning of summer I'm always trying to figure out how to keep my children gainfully occupied. This becomes especially tricky for those who have grown past the easy "play all day" years and into the teen time, but are still not old enough to drive or have regular employment elsewhere. Several do 4-H, some have various jobs, and everyone works on pursuing individual crafts and interests. But still I find myself searching for productive ways to fill these days. Here are some ideas:


Preparing for the 'Teen Years': Gwen is a U.K. homeschooler who lives on one of the Hebrides islands in Scotland. This article talks about having your teen work on a set of physical, spiritual, intellectual, and practical challenges. And what better time to do this than when teens have extra time on their hands?

Yes, unicycling does show up on the President's Challenge list!

Several of my kids have used The Presidential Challenge as they've worked on their high school P.E. requirements. They participated in Presidential Champions program which has a free online activity tracker. Every time they were involved in some type of physical activity, whether it was running a couple of miles or push mowing a lawn, they entered it into the tracker. Participants earn various awards at different point levels. Two of our kids enjoyed running so much, they have continued on long after completing the requirements for a Gold Medal. Our new high school student will get started on the program this summer.


Summer means extra time to read - hurrah! - both for me and for the kids. Many local libraries offer summer reading programs, but here are a couple of online ones you might like to try.

Exodus Books is a West Coast supplier of new and used books. They have one of the best booklists I've seen in a long time. Exodus also has a summer reading program based on their booklist. You'll need to pay $5 to register each child, but if they read 5 books from the list at their reading level or higher, they will receive a gift certificate for $5 with opportunities to earn other prizes as well.  My three youngest are planning to do this contest which begins tomorrow, June 1. (Tip: When you sign up, to avoid shipping charges, choose the option to "pick up" your order locally. This is what the folks at the bookstore told me to do to avoid the unnecessary but otherwise automatic shipping fee.)

Redeemed Reader usually also puts on a summer reading program, complete with read alongs and study guides. This year the site is busy undergoing major renovations, so they have the
Redeemed Reader Summer Reading Challenge Lite.  And here's a post that RR's Megan, a former children's librarian,  has written on Five Ways to Maximize Your Library This Summer.

Sometimes an audio book fits the bill better than a printed one. Audio File Sync is offering two free downloads of young adult books each week this summer, one new book and one classic. I sure won't vouch for every (most?) of the titles they are offering, but some of the classics are winners. On Week 10, for example, Around the World in 80 Days will be available, and Little Women is the selection for Week 12. You can peruse their 14 week listing and see if anything strikes your fancy.


A big part of my summer to-do list always involves organizing things: the house, school records from the past year and plans for the next year, clothes, books, etc. Here are some helps.

This summer I want to organize my online reading, and I'm going to try to better use Feedly. Here's an "Unofficial Guide to Feedly" which looks promising.  Feedly themselves offer this tutorial.

Decluttering always occupies part of each summer around here. Last summer I used some of the ideas and printable lists from the "40 Bags in 40 Days" Challenge  to keep track of my progress. I didn't hit 40 days, but the written record of the progress we did make was encouraging. I'll probably just pick up where I left off last year.

Getting rid of unneeded items does help bring peace and order to our homes. But here's an article which provides some balance to the "Less is More" mantra that seems to be everywhere right now. If your a teensy bit tired of the minimalist movement, check out Can We Declutter Our Way to Christ?

I'd also like to get serious about keeping track of my personal reading. I've recently begun using GoodReads, but this summer I hope to set up different book shelves and put some of the nifty features of this site to use. I think this tutorial will be very helpful. But if that fails, I'm going to order a simple reading log like The Book Lover's Journal or Reading Journal: For Book Lovers.


Speaking of using a book rather than a computer program to record information, NPR's Morning Edition recently ran a piece on why so many people today still prefer paper notebooks. Listen or read the transcript of "In a Digital Chapter, Paper Notebooks are as Relevant as Ever."

And that's it for my May round up. Happy Summer!


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