Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Summer Slide is for Amateurs...Take MackinVIA on Vacation!

It's summer! The time of year when my body has developed an entirely new night-owl sleep cycle that would rival Dracula. The time of year when I have to ask the grocery store clerk what the date is. Summer, in all its grilled, sun-baked glory. And, while I adore this time of year, I don't love what sometimes accompanies it. The dreaded "summer slide". I see it every year. Data shows it, and it takes effort to avoid it.

A few of our DC results
There are so many wickedly sneaky ways to squeeze in learning throughout the summer! I used to be so obvious about it.  "Hey, let's buy this three-inch-thick workbook of [sucky] worksheets so you can practice your skills this summer!" You can see the look on my kids' faces, can't you?! Yeah, me too.  Summer learning doesn't have to be this way, and this is where MackinVIA and a little ingenuity can go a long way!

Heading across South Dakota with a BINGO board!
Our family is calling these three months our National Treasure Summer. We love the two Nicolas Cage movies that slide a decent amount of colonial and pre-colonial history in between slices of total fiction. A concoction of varying family members will be visiting Washington DC, Philadelphia and the Black Hills (aka Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse) in June and July. MackinVIA has added an element of fun and fairly friendly competition to our outings.

Within MackinVIA, you will find search filters that narrow your selections by topic, reading level, and more.  There are so many from which to choose. Don't worry! Your vacations don't need to be so rich in national history to be able to find great pieces of literature about your destination! Quite frankly, we usually don't venture too far from home.  Even in our "staycations", MackinVIA provides a wealth of knowledge about our surrounding area. No matter the location, the digital library has myriad resources, including terrific state books filled with pictures and fascinating details. However, simply lining up a giant list of reading material is, for some, just as bad as the horrifying workbook. This is where a little creativity comes in handy.

For my kids, games are key. Even as the tech integrationist, I take great effort to make sure my kids "unplug" often. There is a host of apps for national parks and destinations, though, and I would suggest tapping into the App Store for your particular device to take advantage of learning opportunities as you see fit. When unplugged, though,  BINGO boards, Jeopardy! boards and TIC-TAC-TOE boards are favorites of mine.  Click on the hyperlinks to find three of my favorite (free) printable boards.

BINGO- Challenge your kids to look through books and create their own modified BINGO board by placing interesting facts about the destination(s) on each space. When you're in the car, plane, train, boat, etc.... it's time to play! Instead of merely marking off a called square, kids can share the interesting fact located in that square before doing so.

Jeopardy!- Kids can look through various books and video clips all found within MackinVIA's digital library before leaving. They can develop questions for each dollar amount using the above-linked template. The harder the question, the more value the question should have. NOTE: I always print two sets for each child, as the second one will serve as their answer key. Mom gets those to store in a folder!  Keep track of running fake dollar totals amongst family members. You could even do a special souvenir prize if you so choose.

TIC-TAC-TOE- For this one, Mom and Dad are in charge of developing questions, but the kids need to know the answers in order to mark their X or O! We use MackinVIA books to make our questions, and we disclose the titles we used in order to make the information search a little more manageable. We often stick to common trivia style questions.

There ya go! Instant, incognito learning. Vacations are memory makers. Might as well make them learning makers, too. I know you won't be sorry.

'Til next time....

Rachel




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