Oh boy, the Grinch

The week after Thanksgiving it began..a kindergarten boy wore a t shirt with a sketch of the Grinch on it; handmade by his Mom. I wanted it! But when I was his age I was afraid of the Grinch. I loved having Mom read the Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas and loved reading it to my own children. The first animated movie was telecast in the United States on CBS on December 18, 1966 and has been a holiday favorite ever since. The special also features the voice of Boris Karloff as the Grinch and the narrator; a 26 minute cartoon with Cindy Lou Who that everyone loves. My children were fascinated by the cartoon and one Christmas, my son got a talking Grinch doll. We still have the box. I am sure the doll is somewhere in our present garage mess.

According to Grinch Mania, the musical adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas started in Minneapolis in 1994, where it also showed in 1995 and 1998 to enthusiastic audiences. In 1998, the musical began playing in San Diego, where it has shown every year since then. The production hit the big time and Broadway in 2006 where it quickly became the hottest ticket on Broadway.

As my children got older in their junior high years, their true and everlasting love story with the Grinch came out in 2000How the Grinch Stole Christmas is an American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film directed by Ron Howard and written by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman. Based on Dr. Seuss’s 1957 book of the same name, it was the first Dr. Seuss book to be adapted into a full-length feature film. The film is narrated by Anthony Hopkins and stars Jim Carrey in the title role, along with Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon, and introducing Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who. And according to box office statistics, one of the most successful films.

In 2018, The Grinch was released and distributed by Universal Pictures in the United States on November 9, 2018, in RealD 3D, a computer-animated Christmas comedy-drama film and played at select IMAX theaters produced by Illumination. It grossed over $511 million worldwide, so far obtaining the highest-grossing holiday film of all-time.

In the kindergarten classroom last week, we watched both cartoon from 1966 and the 2018 movie since the movie starring Jim Carey is a little scary for 5 and 6 year olds..a little scary for me. Though I must say I was positively memorized by the 2018 film….. finding the Grinch more funny than frightening.

Ultimately, as a mature adult…sometimes mature…., I love the Grinch as a doll, a picture on a box, musical renditions performed on stage, cartoon form, or any movie. It was his heart growing three sizes that day for all generations to remember…. that maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas means just a little bit more.

 

Over the river and through the woods

For me as a child, it was a combination of singing the song in elementary school. It was a tune that could not be forgotten easily and once sung…the song would be constantly playing in your mind as a Thanksgiving celebration throughout the next holiday season. I also read the poem in a book partnered with an illustrated painting by Grandma Moses. At a young age, I was always fascinated by her story that she became famous artist as a senior citizen. Her primitive paintings were always something I thought I would copy….even today I try…since I loved her country scenes. When I was nine, I received my first book of her paintings.

The poem was originally published as “The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day”  and written in 1844, Lydia Maria Child. And it was not about going to Grandmas house but Grandfathers.The poem was eventually set to a tune by an unknown composer.  Lydia was a well known author during the time leading up to the Civil War. She wrote a periodical for kids and popular books for housewives with tips to help manage their households. In 1835 she wrote The History of the Condition of Women in Various Ages and Nations that was later an inspiration to women suffragists.

In 1833 she published An Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans, which called for the immediate emancipation of all slaves which did not make her popular.

According to Wikipedia, the original piece had twelve stanzas, though only four are typically included in the song. The verses in bold are the ones I and my family remember:

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone.”
Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

The following verses appear in a “long version”:

Over the river, and through the wood,
with a clear blue winter sky,
The dogs do bark, and children hark,
as we go jingling by.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ding!”,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!
Over the river, and through the wood,
no matter for winds that blow;
Or if we get the sleigh upset
into a bank of snow
Over the river, and through the wood,
to see little John and Ann;
We will kiss them all, and play snow-ball
and stay as long as we can.
Over the river, and through the wood,
trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound!
For ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood,
Old Jowler hears our bells.
He shakes his pow, with a loud bow-wow,[1]
and thus the news he tells.

World Book

As I sat at my card table in the den watching TV, or painting, the World Book Encyclopedia was sitting on a shelf right next to me within hands reach. My mother was so excited when we got them. Like the internet, no family could or should live without them in the 1960s. Now, whenever you had a question for a parent or grandparent, the famous line was let’s go look that up in the World book. I especially liked H.. the one for the human body.. where you opened the book and saw the delicate, plastic, shiny drawing pages.

The first edition of The World Book Encyclopedia was published (as simply The World Book) in 1917, by the Hanson-Roach-Fowler Company in Chicago. Unlike the way most other encyclopedias were printed, World Book has traditionally been published in variously sized volumes, depending on the letter of the alphabet. And it still exists today.

World Book Encyclopedia was also published in electronic form for Microsoft Windows and Apple’s Mac OS X.  Thousands of print sets are still ordered annually, mostly by schools who use them as teaching tools for library research skills; public libraries and homeschooling families are also frequent purchasers. Currently, the 2019 general A-Z look-up source in 22 hard-cover volumes is under 1,000 dollars. World Book also has a series of children’s learning books that deal with science, nature and technology.

My children were 1990’s kids though the computer age was just beginning but for me, we still used the available encyclopedia or dictionary. The computer took forever to connect in their early years but throughout high school and college it was amazing what we could find together. Though Grandma would still refer to …where is that world book? 

Today some students in the elementary classroom will run to their IPad to look something up on the Internet but there are many that will remember that hardcover book. They run to that learning book on the shelf with the colorful photos of the Under the Sea Fish and animals; looking to learn the non-fiction facts about what an octopus really is. Learning to read, at his or her level successfully, as they turn the pages. I can’t wait to sit with them sharing their success with a beloved hard-cover.

 

Chicago Public Library, libraries and book mobiles

I have a distant memory of a bookmobile standing outside our school once though I do not remember selecting any books. However, in elementary school at Buckingham we did not have a library and the Chicago Public library came to visit us. We met in the gym and specific grade level books were placed in carts and disposable chairs were seated in front of the carts. When called, we could select books. I am not sure how many minutes or days we attended. We also had a storeroom that was situated in the gym and books were shelved from floor to ceiling. These were not our books but were leased from the Chicago Public Library and librarians would travel from school to school at that time.  In third grade, I remember getting ready to select books to take home and a lady from our main office was crying over the loud speaker announcing that our president, John F Kennedy had died. I remember looking at the clock that was located by the speaker; it was about 1:15. We did not pick out books that day because we were instructed to go home.

The Chicago Public Library (CPL) is the public library system that serves the City of Chicago in the U.S. state of Illinois. It consists of 80 locations, including a central library, two regional libraries, and branches distributed throughout the city’s 77 Community Areas.The American Library Association reports that the library holds 5,721,334 volumes, making it the 9th largest public library in the United States by volumes held, and the 30th largest academic or public library in the United States by volumes held. The Chicago Public Library is the second largest library system in Chicago by volumes held (the largest is the University of Chicago Library). The library is the second largest public library system in the Midwest, after the Detroit Public Library.

According to American Libraries, bookmobiles have a proud history of service dating back to the late 1850s, when a horse-drawn collection of books began making the rounds in Cumbria, England. Here in the United States, the first bookmobile is widely attributed to Mary Lemist Titcomb, a librarian in Washington County, Maryland, who in 1905 posited “Would not a Library Wagon, the outward and visible signs of the service for which the Library stood, do much more in cementing friendship?”

Today, bookmobiles still exist especially in rural areas where Internet access is not the best. Though the number has dropped, Aurora Public Library in the western suburbs loves their Bookmobile that visits schools on a three-week rotation throughout the school year. The Bookmobile also delivers materials requested from the collections at the Santori Library, Eola Road Branch, or West Branch.   In addition, the Bookmobile has community stops conveniently located throughout the city to serve customers of all age and is available for special events.

I am blessed that the Downers Grove Library is close to home and thankful for the Internet that I may reserve books. You can reserve books that have not been published yet and coming out sometime that year. I make sure I order a combination of old historical fiction and the latest bestsellers. That is one thing I cannot do…… finish one book without another waiting by my side.

You are never bored if you love to read.

Back to life: But not Wanzer

Before school, I would eat my breakfast, generally, Frosted flakes cereal, soaked in the best milk ever at the dinette table . Even the butter on my toast was rich and creamy. The orange juice just ok. Sometimes he would come before I went to school entering the small entry way by the back door. Sometimes my Mom thought he was cute. But he was always pleasant, the same guy for every delivery that she could depend and always Wanzer, for us anyway.

Sidney Wanzer was the son of Nicholas and Betsey (Hill) Wanzer. Sidney and his parents followed his oldest brother Moses to western Dundee Township, Kane, Illinois about 1840. He married Jane Bradley, the daughter of William S. Bradley, another Fairfield, Franklin, Vermont, immigrant, on 22 October 1857 in Elgin, Kane, Illinois.

The family lived in Chicago and had ten children: Luna, Bertha E., William Bradley, Bessie, Howard Hill, Sidney, Jennie L., Breddie, Arthur Grant and Charles.

Sidney Wanzer began hauling his ‘country-fresh’ milk from the farms in the Elgin and Dundee areas to Chicago in 1857. He later partnered with his brother to form the Wanzer Dairy in Chicago.They pioneered the use of the glass milk bottle, scientific testing to determine the butterfat content of milk, mechanical refrigeration for milk storage and applied the pasteurization process invented by Louis Pasteur to kill bacteria in milk.

The main dairy in Chicago was at Garfield Blvd. (55th Street) and the Dan Ryan Expressway along with two other south side plants. A distribution center was located on Lawrence Avenue between Wolcott and Ravenswood.

Wanzer was sold in the 1970’s to Borden. Home milk delivery from local dairies and creameries was a mainstay for many families in the 1950s and ‘60s. But as it became easier and cheaper to buy milk at the grocery store, and as processes were developed to extend milk’s shelf life, the milkman began to fade into the past.

However, now all over the country, trucks are delivering fresh milk in glass bottles and organic vegetables.  Ecoli scares and processed food with few health benefits have changed the food market and many people ordered online and delivered once a week, or month or anytime that fits your schedule. Glass bottles have returned because they can

Some of the best milk delivery in Chicago today are Mori Milk and  1871 Dairy. Mori Milk is located in Franklin Park and has been providing milk, ice cream, cheeses, juices and yogurt delivery for the last fifteen years. Mori Milk is a distributor for Deans foods, Breyers, Ben & Jerry’s and Good Humor.

However, 1871 Dairy is a wholesome dairy infrastructure in Chicago that can claim 100% grass fed products. With a subscription, you will receive free home delivery for those in the Chicago and Western Suburbs tasting the best in cultured buttermilk and drinkable yogurt.

Currently, my son works for Hinkley Schmidt and delivers water to scheduled businesses and communities. It’s those that are retired that want to know who he is, his name and will he always be delivering. They like the idea that it is that same man every time ….just like my Mom’s milkman.

You can actually purchase old glass bottles of vintage Illinois dairies on Etsy and a wonderful children’s book called Milkman Bill. 

Dr. Seuss

Sally and her brother watch the rain pour outdoors while Mother is away. They have nothing to do. They have no massive TV, cell phone, computer, iPad and they can’t wait for The Cat In the Hat to step through the door in 1957, written and illustrated by Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss and published on March 12. As an early reader myself when the book was brand new, I was terrified that the kids, the cat, Thing One and Two, would not clean the house in time for when Mother would come home. I also was so amazed at the massive machine the Cat came up with to clean the home.

As kindergarten students are introduced to The Cat in the Hat today, celebrating Dr. Seuss week, I noticed that the machine isn’t as entrancing as it was for us since households probably have all sorts of vacuums, carpet cleaners and electronic robots to take over the house work just like the Cat.

Geisel created the book in response to a debate in the United first published on August 12, 1960. As of 2016, the book has sold 8 million copies worldwide. Discussions were established about literacy in early childhood and the ineffectiveness of traditional primers such as those featuring Dick and Jane.

It was One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish that I can’t forget because Dr Seuss truly had a gift with the 1960s rhyming book.  You may not remember the story but always the title. Though I think the kindergarten class today liked the adventures of Jay and Kay. As of 2001, over 6 million copies were sold and in 2007, it was named one of the top books for children .

The next day in the class the teacher read Green Eggs and Ham. I forgot to wear green and I do not like Green Eggs and Ham, Sam I am! I kept whispering throughout the story that he was not going to eat those moldy eggs and ham. The children kept telling me that he was because this wasn’t about bad food, it was about friendship. I was quite amazed at their realization. Green Eggs and Ham was first published on August 12, 1960. As of 2016, the book has sold 8 million copies worldwide.

It was Wacky Wednesday. That is what we read and the children came in wearing all sorts of wacky clothes and shoes. I had forgotten about dressing up since I am just wacky anyway  so one student showed me how he had turned his shirt around and I did the same with my sweatshirt. He was pleased. Wacky Wednesday was originally published in 1974, one of my own children’s favorites.

Actually, Dr. Seuss’s birthday is today, March 2nd, 1904 and his second wife just passed away in December. Probably one of my favorite quotes “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
― Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday to you too, Dr. Seuss!

Chicago Treasure

A new hardcover book of photography, illustrations, poetry, and prose that celebrates inclusion and the boundless creativity of children.

Picture a place where any kid can dive into a storybook and become the main character, step into a painting at a museum for a closer look, or ride a bear to Soldier Field. By digitally imposing photographs of diverse Chicago children into fairy tale illustrations, classic works of art, and urban photography, Chicago Treasure creates a whimsical world as rich as a child’s imagination.

In the first section, Just Imagine, starry-eyed youngsters become the heroes of their favorite fairy tales, folk tales, and nursery rhymes brought to life through Rich Green’s lush illustrations. Clever original poems and playful newspaper articles from the Chicago Pretender tell fresh, condensed versions of classic stories, often through a contemporary, Chicago-centric lens. Beloved gems like Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, The Three Little Pigs, and Peter Pan are interspersed with lesser known tales like Tommy Tucker, Pear Blossom and the Dragon, and Polly Put the Kettle On.

In the second section, Now Showing, photographs of contemporary kids are digitally placed in paintings by Norman Rockwell, Edward Hopper, Grant Wood, Paul Gustave Fischer, Jean Beraud, Gustave Caillebotte, and others. Some of the expressive children examine their odd new locales with inquisitive delight. Others seem right at home in their old-fashioned, brush-stroked surroundings.

In the final section, Sightings, Chicago youth, often accompanied by exotic animal sidekicks, explore their city’s cultural landmarks in bold ways that may not be possible in the boring confines of reality. A tiny tot triumphantly rounds third base at Wrigley Field. A group of daring children jump the rising State Street Bridge while riding on the backs of African impalas. Two young ladies stroll through Chinatown with their pet tiger on a leash. Brief text accompanying each amusing image provides readers with key information about the history of Chicago’s most visited places.

The children photographed for Chicago Treasure are as diverse as Chicago itself, with the theme of inclusion prevalent throughout. Every child, regardless of ability, ethnicity, gender, or age is free to see themselves take on great roles in literature and art or let their imagination run wild by exploring iconic Chicago scenes. While youth from all walks of life, ranging in age from babies to teenagers, populate Chicago Treasure, many are students at the Judy and Ray McCaskey Preschool at the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Disabled. In the introduction and afterthoughts, photographer and author Larry Broutman shares some of his most transformative moments with these incredible kids, along with behind-the-scenes photographs and poetry inspired by these touching interactions.

All author proceeds are donated to the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Disabled, and Access Living, Chicago-based nonprofit service agencies.

This innovative book truly puts young people at the center of the adventure.

Title: Chicago Treasure 
Authors: Larry Broutman, Rich Green, and John Rabias 
ISBN: 978-1-893121-79-9 
Imprint: Lake Claremont Press: A Chicago Joint, an imprint of Everything Goes Media, LLC (www.everythinggoesmedia.com) 
Categories: Children / Fairy-tales / Folk Tales / Photography / Illustrations / Poetry / Fine Art 
Price: $35 
Page Count: 168 pp. 
Pub Date: March 1, 2019 
Format: Hardcover, 9.25″ x 10.25″ 
Availability: Chicago Treasure is available online at Amazon.com, Bn.com, and http://www.everythinggoesmedia.com. It’s available 
wholesale from Ingram. Please request from your local bookstore, gift shop, or library

Everything Goes Media / Lake Claremont Press 
www.everythinggoesmedia.com 
With twenty-five years of experience and a love for books and small-scale enterprise, knowledgeable authors with passion projects, and connecting with readers, we are an independent book publisher forging our own path within the industry establishment. Our books have an initial print run of 2,000 to 10,000, and often reprint. We specialize in choosing nonfiction books for particular audiences, supporting authors’ goals, public outreach, and creative sales and marketing. Our imprints include Everything Goes Media (business, gift, hobby, and lifestyle books), Lake Claremont Press (Chicago and Chicago history titles), Lake Claremont Press: A Chicago Joint (distribution for nonfiction Chicago books), and S. Woodhouse Books (ideas, 
history, science, trends, and current events titles)

Larry Broutman 
Since the 1990s, Larry Broutman has traveled the world over to capture the perfect photograph and has found his hometown of Chicago to have a plethora of visual inspiration. Broutman has been interviewed by high-profile television programs, radio shows, newspapers, and art magazines to discuss his critically-acclaimed photography books Chicago Eternal, Chicago Monumental, and Chicago Unleashed. Chicago Monumental has won a Midwest Book Award for best interior design and an IPPY (Independent Publisher) Award in the Great Lakes Nonfiction category. His photography projects include work with Lincoln Park Zoo, Africa Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Children’s Memorial Hospital Clinic, and The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Broutman was a finalist in Africa Geographic magazine’s Photographer of the Year contest. Broutman attended MIT where he received his S.B., S.M., and doctorate degree in the field of Materials Engineering and Science in 1963. Specializing in Polymer Engineering and Science and Composite Materials, Broutman has vast experience writing college textbooks, reference books, and technical articles. In fact, he was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame.

Rich Green 
Illustrator Rich Green is a former Disney intern, a computer graphics professional, and the illustrator of several popular children’s books. Although he works mostly digitally, he also enjoys putting pencil to paper and brush to paint. His artworks can be found in regional galleries. Rich lives in Joliet, Illinois, with his faithful dog, Annie. 

John Rabias 

Teacher and magician John Rabias works in digital illustration and post-production imaging and has taught computer 
graphics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for over twenty years. When not working on screen, John paints in oil. He lives in Chicago with his Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster

The best of the Polar Express

When the classic Christmas book came out in 1985, it was a present under my Christmas tree for me and my son. The Polar Express was the tale of a boy’s dreamlike train ride with other children to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus. The young boy asks for a bell from Santa.When the children return to the train, the boy realizes the bell has fallen through a hole in his pocket. The train drops him at his door and he goes to bed but in the morning, his sister finds one small box with the boy’s name on it among the presents. Inside is the silver bell! They hear it ring and ring but their parents cannot hear the sound at all.

Beautifully wrapped from Grandma, the hard cover was presented in a special gold, gilded box. The book sat comfortably next to the inspired sleigh bell. As my family grew, we read the Polar Express every year. Every year it was a new story. The book was a beautiful meditation on Christmas magic.

In 2004, Tom Hanks played the mystical conductor in the Polar Express, now a timeless holiday movie. Many classrooms watch the Polar Express at school as a parting gift to start the winter break every year. But the Polar Express movie has always scared me a little.The roller coaster train drama was a bit frightening and the elf workshops on the North Pole were cold factories; losing their graceful appeal that other North Pole stories usually offer.

For me, I just wanted to read the book, eat chocolate and pretend. Ultimately, believe.

This week, the last week of school in which I assist, elementary classes received tickets to ride the Polar Express in the IMC, better known as the library. Please wear pajamas and hot chocolate will be served.  Ms. Hendron, the library specialist, is a wonderful creator of magic herself. She has quickly transformed herself into the conductor on the Polar Express. Oh Boy, I can’t wait. Especially a time to wear my pj’s.

The library lights have been dimmed with sheeting overhead. White lights and silver snowflakes hang from the ceiling giving us the feeling of a cold snowy night as we take a seat on the benches that face a huge screen.  A fire roars in the background. We even get hats and our servers, her assistant, Ms. Wisdom, Ms. Kerfin, along with parent and grandparent helpers, pass out cups of hot chocolate. Each page of the book is highlighted on the big screen while being read by a screen reader. As the story proceeds, each student receives a string with Santa’s sleigh bell to take home. I got one too and we jiggled to make sure we could all hear them ring. One kindergarten boy told the staff that this was the best day of his life. Mine too.

If you want to take a ride on a public Polar Express, Rail Events Productions announces service on board THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride at Chicago Union Station this holiday season. Groups of 20 or more are eligible for a 10% discount which must be booked over the phone at (312) 471-2501.  The fun doesn’t end on Christmas. Use promo code 12DAYS for $12 off tickets on any train Dec. 26-Jan 1!

However,though many schools and neighborhoods are offering the Polar Express experience, not much can top the magnificent event of listening and watching the Polar Express book at Elizabeth Ide School.  Even better than with my own children.

And when I got home, I could still hear my library Polar Express sleigh bell ring!!!

 

The little engine that could

I think I can….I can…I can. The values of today as well as yesteryear have not changed. Because the boys and girls are still reading the little engine that could. Some are still reading the original that was published in 1930 stressing optimism and hard work.

This was also a book that encouraged me to become a better reader. Reading was a struggle in first and second grades but it was the little engine that could that told me I could do this too. And I did…I did.

I began to think about the little engine while watching a student in my class follow the words being read out loud on his starfall iPad reading app. But this was a tale of two little engines that together, they could do it. The book talks about the  little red engine who trys and trys while a similar blue little engine helps push the cars of toys over the mountain. Other engines also pass them by.  This version focuses on true teamwork.

The student was excited about the story adding the types of childhood inflection repeating words as I did decades ago. He read it over and over in class. The same week that I noticed him become entranced in little engines, another student selected a book from the wide variety in the classroom. The original Little Engine that could.

And she did the same with the small, hard copy book. She decided to read it outloud while others listened. Later that day we had an assembly with a few members from the Kane county cougar team supporting are reading program.  Once again, one baseball player said that his favorite book was …guess what? Three times. … a charm.

So, of course, after school that same day, I went to the community library. I had saved many of my childhood favorites in a bookcase at home but not this one. There were many editions of the book as I discovered through the digital card catalog  including , a DVD, and a movie. But copies were checked out and the librarian said that it was always like that with The Little Engine That Could. Would I like The Little Engine That Could Gets a Check Up?

No, that is fine. I will just have the students read to me the copies at the school I assist,  whenever I need to be reminded of my childhood..my beginnings of academic success. Whenever I need to know,today, that I still can!

 

 

 

 

 

What are your children doing this summer?

As a child, with the exception of weekend trips, summer vacation was not always fun for me. Reading alone was difficult and I did receive help when in school but I envied those that enjoyed sitting down on a rainy afternoon with Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. I also missed my best friend who went to summer day camp. It wasn’t fair and to this day, I am not sure why I couldn’t go with her. Sadly, I would wait on the sidewalk for the bus to drop her off. Some days were long….very long for me, my dolls and my swing set.

When my own children were growing up, many summers I worked, but I always tried to make every vacation or field trip a true learning opportunity. We always visited museums and trips would focus on their interests. For example, my son loved trains so there was always visits, to unique train shops, museums, and of course, rides on the Chicago Metra. My daughter loved photography and she spent a few days with a photographer to learn more about the working world of that profession; exposing her to possible career choices in the future.

Dr. Pam Roggeman is a proven academic leader familiar with and passionate about technology in progressive education and has extensive experience designing curriculum; preparing teachers in a university setting. She currently serves as the Academic Dean for the College of Education at University of Phoenix. Below, she provides wonderful suggestions for a summer filled with fun, learning, self-improvement skills and essential family time.

Create a “matching agreement.” For every hour spent in front of a screen entertaining themselves, have your child match that time in with a learning activity. Most book stores or a quick online search will have workbooks for math, reading and writing to practice skills. Have your kids do work like this to “earn and accumulate” time they can bank for screen time.

Set “learning self-improvement goals” such as a number of books read, minutes of math tutorials a day, or pages written and then agree on a fun reward for goals attained. Make it more meaningful to your kids by allowing them to decide what they’d like to learn and study. Make it even more meaningful by creating rewards for attaining the goals. These rewards don’t have to cost you anything – maybe they can earn sleepovers with friends, breakfast in bed or “owning” the TV remote for a night.

Summer reading can be essential for students to maintain and continue building their reading skills. This summer, help your children find books that will make the child think on a much larger level. Together, explore your child’s interests and find books that feed those interests.

Encourage your children to keep a journal to regularly document their activities throughout the summer. This is key because kids will start to see their accomplishments on paper. This can be a conversation starter at the dinner table, “what did you do today that will make it into your journal?” When they go back to school and the teacher asks, “What did you do all summer?” they will have the best answer in class!

Look for educational camps and structured social activitiesthat parents can in participate with their children. Make every vacation an opportunity to have the whole family grow and learn together. Maybe visit a different museum in a town nearby that would make a great day trip, or when you take that drive to the local national or state park, take the time to read the information about its origin and why it was established. Be the parent who researches and does the leg work to find the fun, educational activities at your local community center and invite your child’s best friend to attend.

Use the summer to do the kind of learning you don’t have time to do during the school year.