Starry, Starry Night – #CovidSummer Series Part 2

summer learning staycationIt’s mid-July and it is just, plain hot.

For lots of really good reasons, we tend to stay indoors a bit more during this part of the summer. I don’t know how I would live without AC now, but as a kid, I didn’t care about that when my brothers and I were out catching lightning bugs, playing flashlight tag with our friends, or roasting marshmallows on our little charcoal grill. My favorite? Storms big enough to kick off the power.

These are not just some of my favorite memories, but the things that “define” summer.

Odds are, you probably have similar memories. With many of us choosing staycations this year, this may be the perfect year to introduce your kids to some of the favorite things of your childhood … or create something new!

A Night Under the Stars

Given the continuing spread of the virus, we recommend these as family-only activities.

  • Stargazing. Backyards and rooftops are great places for casting our eyes skyward. These days, you don’t have to know exactly what you’re looking at, because there’s an app to help guide you.
  • Flashlight Tag. This is a touch-free game that can be played with social distancing, too.
  • Catching fireflies. A clear glass jar and a lid with a few holes is all you need to create your very magical lantern.
  • S’Mores on the grill. Is there anything more summer than roasted marshmallows? Easy to do and easy to combine with other ideas in this post.

If you have the gear, definitely consider a backyard camp-out with the house used for restrooms only. Bacon over an open fire … okay, the grill. I’m in, how about you?

A Night WITH the Stars

These ideas work whether it is a family-only event or a FEW friends or neighbors visit, too. You will want to establish some socially-distanced seating ahead of time and mark those spots so people can bring their own chair.

  • Drive-in movie night! Plan a “concession stand” with grab-and-go snacks and set up socially-distanced “watch spots.” Hang a white sheet from the side of the house to use as your big screen.
  • Ghost Stories around the “fire.” You don’t have to be a great storyteller or know a lot of ghost stories. Turn on an audiobook of short stories or find a great radio-style podcast. Just make sure everyone can hear from their spot. As for the fire, if you have a firepit that’s great. If not, consider a small, portable grill.
  • Concerts after dark. If you’re a musically talented family, grab the instruments and plan a family jam session. No instruments? No problem! Let everyone take turns creating an iTunes/Amazon Music/Google Music playlist and serving as the host for their concert.
  • Talent Show. With or without flashlights or spotlights, this can be a “[Your Name]’s Got Talent,” show where each person in your family creates their own “act.”

Nice idea, but what do these things have to do with literacy?

I’m glad you asked! Whenever we apply ourselves there is an opportunity to learn and build not just literacy skills, but social emotional intelligence, too.

  • Listening to stories or movie dialogue is great for building vocabulary and seeing how words work. [Not those words.] They also demonstrate how to convey ideas or feelings to another person (appropriately and not-so-appropriately).
  • Flashlight tag, catching lightning bugs, and selecting/marking socially-distanced seating spots take some analytical skill and require problem solving. Working with a partner adds communication and teamwork.
  • Making S’mores, making a playlist, requires planning and sequencing (doing things in order).
  • Holding a flashlight or a marshmallow stick takes fine motor skills. These are part of the “grasping” muscle system we use for writing.

Covid Summer of Family Fun Series