Let's talk about and share some preschool summer planning ideas!
Do you work in a full year preschool program or does your program close for the summer months?
If you work in a full year, what do you do differently during the summer months?
Summer planning of preschool themes, activities and the like typically has a different look to it than school year planning. Summer planning is more relaxed. The children in your care in the summer are most likely full time children with parents/guardians working full time.
What can you do to still support your preschoolers' growth and development but have your program feel less like the typical school year?
Sometimes, it's simply a matter of changing the name(s) of your activities and changing your environment!
Creating a different feel in your summer planning can begin with some simple name changes!
We have some pretty traditional names for the activities and interest centers in preschool: Circle Time, Dramatic Play, Sand & Water Table, etc.
Base your interest learning center names on these overall themes.
Try these names for a summer feel:
Instead of Circle Time or Morning Meeting, try Campfire Time or Bonfire Time!
Create an artificial campfire at Circle Time. We used rocks, sticks and leaves for many years. In one program, the Boy Scouts had an electric artifical campfire. There was not heat, but a fan blew orange and red pieces of cloth around the faux wood!
Sit around it with your preschoolers each morning as you review your plans for the day.
What about calling Dramatic Play "The Corral" (for an overall summer Western Theme) or "The Beach" for an overall summer Beach or Ocean Theme
Again, create fun, themed names for these centers. Perhaps the water table will be referred to as The Ocean or The Watering Hole!
For many years, I worked in a year round program. Summer was very different for us! We wanted it different--for the children and for us!
We didn’t want our program or classroom to feel like “school”! Sure, we still planned activities based on preschool themes and worked on concepts and skills. However, we wanted it to be less structured and more relaxed.
We would "theme the room" by creating a look and feel of the theme. If you have a Circus Theme in mind, hang a small parachute over the library area or the Circle Area and call it The Big Tent.
Hang streamers, make signs and go all out! Leave these decorations up for the month (as opposed to changing them weekly or bi-monthly as you might during the school year).
As often as possible, we had an outdoor classroom: water play, the art easel, musical instruments, etc. outside instead of in. You might be limited in the amount of time you have outside (due to shared space with other programs and grades), but don't let that stop you!
Create an outside bag that has all the materials you want to use during your outside time each week. Refill or change it out on Fridays for the next week.
This might be a tough suggestion for you, but GET RID of Calendar Time, "What's the Weather" Time, Day/Letter/Shape/Color of the week, if you do these during the year.
Let Campfire Time be what it (and what I think Circle Time) was meant to be: A time to come together as a group, chat about the night before or the weekend and discuss what is happening at Camp/The Circus/The Ocean this week!
Make Whadalyatcha your morning song to mark the beginning of the morning instead of "It's Time to Come To Circle Now"!
Be a community. Plan together!
Have the children be a large part of the planning this summer! When you have your Campfire Time and talk about your theme, ask what THEY would like to learn about! Write down their ideas and base your summer planning ideas on their suggestions.
Listen to their observations throughtout the day-it will trigger many ideas for you to incorporate into the interest learning centers.
Share your summer planning ideas with others! How is your summer program different than the school year? Post your comments below!