This sounds so cliche, but I really try to do summer "on purpose". I like to incorporate educational activities and learning opportunities into our days, and planning them out and having them on hand makes it so much easier to do.
My kids adore the book, "The Day The Crayons Quit" and I thought that a day with activities centered around it would be perfect and engaging.
If you're unfamiliar with the book, it's the story of Duncan and how his crayons quit for various reasons. The crayons each write a letter to Duncan voicing their complaints and they're hilarious.
The kids didn't know that it was a special day until they woke up and we made our way to the breakfast table...
We had special donuts with sprinkles the same colors as the crayons in the book. The napkins and cups I picked up at WalMart and the plates we already had.
You had me at donuts!
I put brown paper and crayons out for them to color with and, as expected, Griffin was all over them right away. She's my little artist.
We read the story as we ate.
And after breakfast the boys watched Mr.Rogers show how crayons are made on YouTube. They loved Mr.Rogers so much and I was having total 1980s flashbacks :) They've asked to watch more Mr.Rogers videos since then and have learned about making construction paper and fortune cookies.
After the Mr. Rogers video, I asked the boys to construct their own crayon factory out of Duplos. Since they had just seen a real factory in action they had lots of great ideas.
In the book, white crayon talks about how he's useless by himself because he doesn't show up on most papers. We took white crayons and they drew designs on white cardstock with them. Then we used watercolors to paint the paper.
As they painted, the designs they drew showed up... you can see white crayon!!!
After lunch and errands we got out all of our broken crayons, stripped them down and broke them into pieces. The boys worked intently on this for about 45 minutes.
We filled up a mini muffin tin...
.. and I baked them at 250 degrees for about 10 minutes. Here's where I failed. I didn't use muffin liners (several tutorials said you didn't have to, but I don't think my pan was non-stick). They wouldn't come out of the pan and I ended up having to throw my mini muffin pan away. BOO!
Regardless, the boys still got a kick out of seeing all the melted colors and we learned a valuable lesson for next time :)
The night before, I drew out these crayons on poster board and cut them out (again - prep is key!).
I wrote out a list of colors and let Luke practice his writing by writing the color on each crayon.
After he wrote the names, he drew and colored things that represented each color on the wrappers. My original plan was for him and Mason to cut pictures out of old magazines, but Mason was napping and Luke really wanted to draw, so we ran with it.
We had a great time talking about each color, referencing the book and figuring out things he could draw for each color.
After nap time it was dinner - and during dinner I asked the boys this series of "Who Am I" questions
to see how much of the book they remembered.
"I feel so empty, Duncan. You cannot even see me if I didn't have a black outline. Who am I?"
"Duncan, I love my workload. You use me to color dinosaurs and trees and frogs. Who am I?"
"I am not speaking to yellow crayon. Can you tell him I am the color of the sum? Who am I?"
"I am glad I've been your favorite color for such a long time, but there isn't much of me left. Give me a break. Who am I?"
"Duncan, I need your help ASAP! I'm naked and can't leave the crayon box. Who am I?"
"You use me all year long to color fruits and even holidays. I need a rest. Who am I?"
It was fun to see how much they remembered. Luke has an AMAZING memory and he knew them all - and then he came up with some off the top of his head for me. And the freaky thing is that they were almost word for word quotes from the book. He's awesome :)
Earlier in the afternoon I had sorted out some bowls of crayons and after dinner I gave each of the boys their own bowl and a graphing colors page (I've had this saved on my desktop forever and I don't remember where I found it! SORRY!)
They sorted their colors and then shaded in the number of boxes that corresponded with the number of crayons.
I thought I was gong to have to help Mason with this a lot, but he really really liked doing this activity. I have plans to do another one with sorting and counting Hot Wheels cars or skittles or blocks or something because he loved this so much.
We ended the night by reading the book one more time and talking about our favorite activity from the day. Luke loved melting the crayons (even though they failed as ending up as crayons to use. hahaha) and Mason loved the graphing and watercolors.
The day was so much fun and it was actually really simple to put together. If you're not up for a whole day, you could surprise your kids with a lunch or dinner where you read the book and pick one or two of the activities to do together.
I have plans for a few more of these this summer and hope to continue the Family Book Club tradition into the fall. I would LOVE book recommendations! My kids love all kinds of books, but ones with humor are always their favorites.