Assessment in Montessori Schools

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Testing is a hot-button topic for many families.  When making decisions regarding your child’s education, it’s important to know a school’s stance on assessments.  Read on to get an idea of where Montessori schools stand.

Let’s Define Assessment…

Merriam-Webster defines assessment as:

“the action or an instance of making a judgment about something : the act of assessing something”.

If we take a look at the evolution of the word itself, we find that assess comes from the Latin word assidere, which means ‘to sit beside’.

While any type of assessment is a means of judging progress, Montessori teachers take the Latin root to heart.  We literally sit beside the child, observing and assessing as we go.

While there are many different forms assessment can take, most of them can fit into two main categories: formative and summative assessment.  Formative assessment happens while the teaching and learning is taking place.  This is the type that Montessori teachers rely heavily on.  It allows teachers to shift gears mid-lesson and to get an instant record of how a child is doing with a particular skill at any given moment.  Summative assessment is more like your traditional test at the end of a unit, or a major standardized test at the end of the year.  These tests are typically data collection points and are often used mostly by the adults and not to give feedback to the student.  

How Do Montessori Teachers Track Progress?

Notes.  Notebooks full of thoughtful and detailed handwritten notes.  At least that’s the traditional way of recording progress.  Many schools are now shifting over to digital platforms that are created for and cater specifically to Montessori schools and their goals and values.  Still, many Montessori teachers continue to keep their own detailed records by hand.

Montessori teachers are masters of observation.  They think like scientists and spend lots of time sitting back and quietly watching the children at work.  When they’re not giving lessons, they’re observing.  They write all these observations down and then review them later to help decide what lessons to revisit, what new materials to present, or even what parts of the classroom environment need attention or change. 

How is Mastery Evaluated?

Often, mastery is evaluated while the teacher is giving a lesson.  Montessori developed a fascinating tool called the ‘three-period lesson’.  When a teacher is presenting new material to a child, they may only present the first period, or the first two, depending upon how the child reacts to the work during the lesson.  When the teacher suspects mastery, the third period portion will be given.  There is a certain amount of variation depending on the subject matter, but the general pattern is as follows:

  • First Period: “This is ____.” The teacher introduces the skill.  If the child is to learn the parts of a mountain, the teacher may say, “This is the summit.  The summit is the highest point of a mountain.”  A visual will be presented along with any other supporting materials.
  • Second Period: “Where is ____?” The teacher provides part of the information and asks the child to identify the rest.  For example the cards highlighting the various parts of the mountain may be laid out and the teacher asks the child to point to each defined part in turn.  “Where is the summit?”
  • Third Period: “What is ____?” The teacher is determining whether the child can independently recall the information.  The mountain cards are now laid out without any labels, and the child must identify the parts without any cues.  “What is this part?”

The best part?  Because of the beauty of the materials and the tone of the classroom, the child perceives this as a sort of game rather than a test to be dreaded.

What About When Children Get Older?

Parents often wonder how their children will make the transition into their local public schools or other more traditional private schools once they age out of their Montessori school.  This is where there’s a little more variability.  Different schools take different approaches, but some give the option of offering some form of standardized testing for their oldest students.  This could be in the form of state testing, or something similar.  This testing is typically not a requirement, but is sometimes an option for students or families who are interested.  Contact us to learn more about how our school handles this transition.

A Note About Self-Assessment:

Montessori classrooms are not just designed for teachers to assess the students, but also for the students to assess themselves.  This is done in two main ways.

Most Montessori materials are autodidactic, that is they are self-teaching.  They have been intentionally developed in such a way that the child can not complete the work incorrectly, or there is a built-in means for them to check their own work.  This looks different at the different levels and is best understood by visiting a classroom to observe, which we always encourage parents and prospective parents to do when they are curious.  When given a lesson on how to use a material correctly, the children learn about these built-in tools and how they can use them to guide their work.

Secondly, Montessori students are taught to be reflective.  As they get older (typically elementary and above), individual meetings with their teacher give them the opportunity to be an active participant in planning their own education.  They are not told what they must do, but they are asked how they plan to accomplish specific goals.  Some of these goals are set by the teacher but others are set by the child.  When needed, teachers will give strategies and suggestions, but the hope is that eventually the child will develop more of these on their own.  

We want our children to be able to take a look at their work and evaluate it with a critical eye, while still basking in the joy of accomplishment and learning.  By not passing obvious judgement in the form of grades or other traditional feedback methods, Montessori children come to see their learning as a constantly fluctuating process that they are empowered by.  If we can instill those values in them as children just imagine what they will be capable of as adults.

Living Montessori in the Summer

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If you’re reading this, you’re either:

  1. Sending your child to a Montessori school and totally dedicated to the philosophy, or
  2. Very curious about whether Montessori might be a good fit for your family.

Either way, you can create a Montessori-style summer that will either continue the experience, or give you a chance to try it out.

Maria Montessori cared deeply about honoring human development.  From the materials she created to the environments they are placed in to the delivery of the model, great attention is paid to the specific developmental phase a child is in.  You can do the same, simply and with just a little forethought...

Keeping your child’s needs in mind

So what exactly did Montessori have to say about the different stages of development?  Here’s a very quick rundown:

Infants and toddlers: Children in the earliest years are making great strides in development of movement and spoken language.  Though they will seek some level of independence, they still need quite a bit of support and lots of nurturing.  Children of this age display a strong preference for order.

3-6 year olds: The sense of order continues in this stage.  Primary-aged children want to do things for themselves, often literally saying, “I can do it!”  We try to let them, and modify their environment to make this possible.  It is also a time of huge growth in language, sensory refinement, early reading, writing, and math.  Children tend to work beside their peers, but independently.

6-12 year olds: The strong sense of order tends to disappear around this time, and is replaced by an emphasis on justice and social development.  Children at this age care very much about friendships and spend much of their time figuring out how to resolve conflicts together.  They are inspired by storytelling, science, history, and geography.  They continue to make great strides in the core academic areas.  They want to think for themselves.

Adolescents: Montessori recognized that adolescents are trying to balance their need for independence from adults, while still requiring quite a bit of support from them.  Increasing their responsibilities and providing them with challenges helps them work through this time.  This is a great time to start teaching children the skills they will need to master when they are finally ready to set out on their own.

Consider the routine

Routine is helpful for most humans, important for children, and critical for young children.  While vacations and daily activities will certainly mix up any routine, it’s a good idea to establish one anyway.  Routines give children consistency, which makes them feel safe.  It reduces behavioral issues and gives children the freedom to explore their world and take safe risks.  Consider the following:

  • What does your child need to do each day upon waking?  Depending upon their age, what can you do to support their independence in this area?  A toddler may have a floor bed so that they may physically rise on their own, while a six-year-old might be responsible for getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and preparing their breakfast.
  • What can your children do during the day (especially on days when there are no specific plans)?  Is there a bookcase containing age-appropriate books?  Are toys, games, puzzles, and art supplies organized and accessible?  Do your children feel free to explore these things independently, and have the knowledge and sense of responsibility to clean up when they are done?
  • Do your children have independent access to snacks and water?  Allowing them to listen to their bodies and self-identify those needs is a precious gift.  
  • Depending upon age, might your children help prepare meals?
  • Is there a balance between active time and quiet time?  Between togetherness and independence?
  • Just as it’s important to have a morning wake-up routine, consider what type of routine you want to establish for bed-time.  Though this might vary a bit from the regular school year, it’s still helpful to keep it consistent.

Integrate academics

This is totally possible to do without evoking moans and groans.  First of all, most Montessori children delight in academics.  Secondly, it can be done in short, effective bursts.  Some ideas:

  • Read daily.  Read to them, have them read to you, to each other, to themselves.
  • Find math in everyday life and talk about it.  The kitchen, shopping, driving - the possibilities for real-world word problems are endless.
  • Spend 5 minutes a day on math facts.  Make it fun with sidewalk chalk, silly songs, jump roping, or dry erase markers on the living room window.
  • Explore!  Dig into science, history, and geography by visiting local museums, parks, and landmarks.  Encourage their curiosities and research more together.
  • Older children can journal their experiences.  This is especially effective with a fancy notebook and pencil.

“Going Out”

A hallmark of the Montessori elementary years is “going out”, or small groups of children organizing and executing a field trip to further their individual interests.  Are your kids into dinosaurs?  See if there are any nearby fossil sights or museum exhibits.  Do they love sea creatures?  Check out an aquarium or visit the beach to explore tide pools.  They key is to listen to your children and let their interests guide the trip.  

Embracing nature

People simply feel better when they spend time in nature.  Ideally, we should all get out there at least a little bit each day.  If you live in a place adjacent to a natural area - say a body of water or forest - then this should be easy.  But even in urban areas there are options.  Does your family have a favorite park?  Does your city have a botanical garden or arboretum?  Is it possible to drive a short distance to more natural areas?

Keep your child’s developmental phase in mind when planning outdoor experiences.  It can be easy to get excited about a hike only to find out little legs can’t make it as far as you thought.  Build in breaks, bring snacks, and take lots of pictures!

Making time for the arts

It’s fun, easy, and important to build art into your summer plans.  Children can both appreciate the art of others and create work of their own.

It’s likely that your local community has more art on display than you may realize.  Search for not only museums, but galleries, sculptures, and street art such as murals.  Older children can have fun making art scavenger hunts for younger siblings.  

Drawing might be inspired by art they see, their outdoor adventures, or even tiny plants and creatures in your own backyard.  It can also be fun to participate in a daily sketchbook challenge such as this one: https://tinkerlab.com/july-sketchbook-challenge/ .

Other art possibilities are endless.  For infants and toddlers, it can be as simple as giving them a paintbrush, cup of water, and a smooth rock warmed in the sun.  They can paint the water on it, watch it disappear as it dries, and repeat for as long as the activity holds their interest.  Older children may want to experiment with a wide variety of medium.  Think pastels, watercolor, clay, collage, or charcoal.  Let them experiment and find new ways to use the materials.

Hopefully this post gives you some ideas for blending Montessori with summer home life.  Let us know how it goes!

Montessori Basics: Freedom Within Limits

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“Freedom within limits” is a phrase often used by Montessorians.  What do they mean and what does that look like?  Read on to find out...

The Myth: Montessori schools let children do whatever they want.  The children just play all day and the teachers don’t really teach.  It’s complete chaos.

These types of statements are typically made by people who don’t really know a whole lot about Montessori and haven’t spent time in the schools.  Montessori is very different from traditional and conventional education methods, so it’s natural to draw those assumptions based on limited information.  People who are familiar with the philosophy tend to have a very different take.

The Environment

Preparation of the environment is one of the most important things a Montessori teacher can focus on.  We believe that it is possible to create an environment full of materials that entice children to learn.  These materials are organized very carefully on wooden shelves so that children may access them independently.  As the needs of the children evolve, the offerings on the shelves evolve, too.  

In short, we think about the desired learning outcomes and create an environment that will allow children to achieve them with a certain level of independence.  We want them to satisfy their own learning curiosities and feel empowered by their own education.  We give lessons and we stand back and watch the children practice.

Care of Self

At a very young age children begin to feel a desire to do things for themselves.  Isn’t that what we all want for them?  Sometimes out of habit, and sometimes when we are in a hurry, it can be easy to jump in and do things for our children.  If we are careful to build in the time and structures that allow for independent self-care, it is amazing to see what kids are capable of.

This begins in the toddler class when they are learning to use the toilet independently.  In primary classrooms we actively teach children how to prepare their own snacks, and even encourage them to listen to their bodies’ needs and have a snack when they decide they need it, not when we decide it’s snack time.  Whenever possible, we don’t have our students ask for permission to use the restroom.  We trust them to take care of themselves when they need to.

Have you ever thought about your own attention span?  When we focus on challenging work for long periods of time we need to stop and take breaks occasionally.  This is healthy and makes us more productive in the long run.  We trust children to do the same, but we are right there to guide them back on track whenever they might need a reminder.

Work and Learning

It is true that Montessori children are free to choose their own work.  We want them to learn to follow their interests but we also want to give them opportunities to learn time management skills and responsibility in an authentic way.  While toddlers and primary aged children have lots of choice, older children are expected to follow a general academic framework.  While an elementary teacher is giving small group lessons, the rest of the class is working independently.  Some children might have a written work plan, others might have internalized the need to cover the major academic areas, and still others may need more direct teacher guidance.  Our goal is to meet regularly with each child to check in with their work and have a conversation about how that independence is going.  Children may choose the order in which they do their work, where they sit, and who they work with, but they know that ultimately it’s their responsibility to get it all done.

Parents often ask, “What if my child wants to avoid a particular work?”  This happens with many kids, as we all have things we like and things we don’t!  Montessori teachers give children strategies to address the avoidance.  When a child is younger, we may find a way to tie a personal interest into the work (for example, dinosaur counters in math).  Older children are open to learning work ethic strategies.  We may gently say, “I notice you’ve been avoiding grammar.  Sometimes we save the things that are hard or that we don’t enjoy so much for last, but completing that work first is helpful.  Why don’t you try that today and see how it feels?”  Acknowledging the struggles we all face and providing helpful feedback gives kids the support they need to grow as learners.  

Social Growth

One of the great things about Montessori classrooms is the flexibility we have in regards to time and structure.  Because we don’t ask children to sit at desks (we allow them to make their own seating choices and their own work buddy choices) they are free to have more authentic social interactions.  Kids under six often engage in what we call ‘parallel play’.  That is, they tend to be more apt to work individually beside their friends.  These younger children receive lots of lessons in grace and courtesy and their teachers are nearby to help guide them through any challenging social situations.

Once the elementary years begin, children become very social people.  This is a time in which they are learning all about friendships and how to interact socially with their peers.  They often delight in these interactions, but sometimes they are confronted with conflict.  Montessori teachers have the time to specifically teach conflict resolutions skills and peer mediation.  We are able to sit with children and guide them through the process in such a way that children feel heard, respected, and empowered with the skills necessary to resolve their problems independently in the future.

A Gradual Release

It’s important to remember that while Montessori schools do place great value in the development of independence we recognize it’s not something that happens overnight.  Luckily, when teachers work with children for a three year cycle, they become so tuned in to each child’s needs and progress that their learning experience is truly tailored to the individual.  

We don’t simply expect children to be independent and make great choices right away.  We slowly foster and encourage those values over time.  While paying close attention to each developmental phase and each student’s needs, we can intervene only when necessary.

We all appreciate being able to make our own choices when it comes to ourselves, our work, and our friendships.  Montessori just makes this possible for kids, too.

The Role of the Montessori Teacher

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What, exactly, is the role of the Montessori teacher?  How is it so different from that of any other teacher?

Sometimes it’s easiest to begin by explaining what a Montessori teacher isn’t.

A Montessori teacher is less like the traditional idea of an instructor, and more like a gentle guide.  They don’t consider it their job to give a child information.  They rather lead children in the general direction and give them the tools they need to find the information themselves.  

Maria Montessori once said, “The greatest sign of success for a teacher...is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’”

Montessori Teachers Cultivate Independence

In a Montessori classroom, rather than seeing a teacher at the front of the classroom giving the same lesson to every child, the teacher will be working quietly with individual children or small groups.  While that is happening the rest of the children are free to spend their time doing the work that calls to them.  A Montessori teacher works hard to create structures that allow children to be independent and to trust themselves as learners.

One large part of what a Montessori teacher does is to intentionally prepare a classroom environment that is developmentally appropriate, is inviting to children, and supports them on their journey to work independently.  This environment is constantly changing in tiny ways as the teacher notices new and evolving needs of the students.

Montessori Teachers are Trained to Think Like Scientists

Parents should know that Montessori teachers are highly trained.  Most have recognized Montessori credentials in addition to their college degrees.  Montessori certification programs are intensive and demanding; one might compare them as being the equivalent of another college degree.  These training programs don’t just teach Montessori educators how to use the specialized materials; there is extensive coursework about Montessori philosophy, child development, and integrating the arts.

When it comes to assessments, Montessori teachers don’t rely on standardized tests; they rely on the power of observation.  They have notebooks brimming with evidence of what their students have mastered, need more support with, and are curious about.  They are constantly recording what they notice children working on, how that work is being executed, and ideas they might have in anticipation of a child’s next steps.  Montessori teachers literally sit beside a child and determine exactly what they know about a wide range of content areas.

Montessori Teachers Think Long-Term

Because of Montessori’s three-year cycles, teachers have the unique ability to consider their big picture when working with students.  There is a natural tendency to allow the children to genuinely learn at their own pace.  Getting to know a child and their family well over the course of a few years really supports this approach.  

Montessori Teachers are Often Called ‘Guides’

...and for good reason.  While children in Montessori classrooms have an abundance of choice in their educational pursuits, Montessori is based on the idea of ‘freedom within limits’.  It’s the Montessori teacher’s job to carefully craft those limits.  Children rely on having a certain amount of structure in place.  This gives them comfort and a safe place in which they can take risks and try new things.  Montessori teachers set some boundaries and then carefully help students navigate within them.

What if your second grader loves to read but tends to avoid math?  Their Montessori teacher will find ways to ensure the math still gets done.  Sometimes this involves a gentle discussion with a child about time management skills, priorities, or setting goals.  Sometimes the teacher will find a way to integrate the child’s interests into the less desirable work.  Sometimes all it takes is a minor change in the environment.  Montessori teachers gives children freedom, but they assist children in finding their way to success in this environment.

Montessori teachers value independence, self-reliance, and intrinsic motivation.

They also value cooperation, kindness, and strength in community.

Still curious?  Call us to set up an appointment to observe in a classroom.  See what Montessori is really all about.  

In the meantime, check out this great video of a lower elementary classroom in which the teachers talk about the children’s work and their own roles:

5 Fun and Easy Summer Ideas for Kids and Parents

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Summer is a great time to plan exciting trips or visit with family and friends.  Even with scheduled plans, we are often still left with lots of downtime.  While it can be a great thing for kids to feel boredom and create their own fun, it can be handy to have a few ideas in your back pocket for those days when everyone starts to go a little stir-crazy.  Check out these fun summer activities that can easily be done last-minute:

1. Visit a Museum

Even very young children will enjoy trips to your local museum.  While many will delight in spending a day at a museum specifically designed for children, kids also like going to art museums, science museums, aquariums, and many others.

Many local libraries now have passes to area museums.  If you have a library card, you may be able to pick up a pass the will give you and your family free or reduced admission, which is a nice perk for everyone.  Libraries are a great resource to figure out what museums might be best for your kids, too.

When you do head out, remember to consider your kids’ perspective during the day.  Some exhibits may be fascinating for you but boring to them, and vice versa.  Kids will need breaks and food.  Pack some snacks or check out a fun local lunch spot.

Presetting the kids is another great strategy.  Talk to them about what they will see, how they are expected to behave at a museum, and what the day will be like.  Let their interests help guide your trip, and enjoy the memorable experience.

2. Go for a Hike

Taking your kids hiking has so many benefits!  You get to spend quality time together, everyone gets some exercise, and the family gets to immerse themselves in nature.  There are so many options that are sure to find a trail that will appeal to even the most reluctant of hikers. Browse an online directory to decide what might be a good fit.  Check out these sites for more information:

https://www.hikingproject.com/

https://www.americantrails.org/resources/statetrails/

https://www.trails.com/

Before heading out, make sure everyone is dressed appropriately.  These needs will vary greatly depending on what part of the country you plan on hiking in and how challenging the trail is.  Consider wearing either sturdy sneakers or hiking boots; open-toes shoes can quickly lead to painful encounters with rocks, roots, or other obstacles.  Dressing in comfortable layers is also a good idea, as hiking (especially in the summer) can cause our bodies to heat up, but mountain summits or other open areas can be breezy and deceptively chilly.  

It’s important to think about pests as well.  Bugs will be joining you on your hike, and no matter how much your little ones may find them fascinating, certain insects are best kept at a distance.  Two standouts include mosquitoes and ticks, both of which can carry disease.  There are many options for prevention of bites, including wearing right clothing, to buying or making repellent sprays.  Find out what pests to be aware of in your area and consider your options for protection.

Lastly, be sure to make it fun!  Adults typically hike with a goal and approach the experience as a task to complete.  Children will likely want to stop frequently, both to explore every cool leaf and rock they see, but also because they will get tired.  Be prepared to take lots of breaks, and pack some fun snacks and water.  Remember to take some pictures to remember the day!

3. Make Recycled Art

Feeling creative but low on supplies?  Raid your own recycle bin for some inspiration!  Some possibilities:

  • Unique drawing paper - That old Amazon box or colorful envelope provides the perfect canvas for kids to unleash their drawing and coloring skills.  Use whatever you have around the house, including crayons, markers, or even sidewalk chalk.
  • Collage - Magazines or flyers are great for this.  Cut out shapes, images, letters, or whatever inspires you, then glue them onto another piece of paper to make a whole new image.  Bonus: young kids are getting some good fine motor practice!
  • Sculpture - The possibilities are endless.  Egg cartons can become caterpillars, plastic bottles can transform into vases, and cardboard tubes and boxes can be attached to one another to make animals.  Gather up some tape and markers and see what your imagination can create.

One really fun option is to pull your recycling bin into the middle of your kitchen floor and ask your child to use their imagination.  Children see the world in such an unfiltered way, and everyday objects can easily provoke their creativity.  

4. Pack a Picnic

Having a picnic is one of the simplest and relaxing ways to enjoy the warmer months.  Choose a spot (local parks or beaches are wonderful, but so is your own backyard.)  Have the kids help prepare and pack sandwiches, snacks and drinks.  Some ideas:

  • Finger Foods: Think grapes, olives, cheese, bread,  and carrot sticks.
  • Simple Salads: Whip up your favorite, whether it be macaroni, bean, potato, or veggie-based.
  • Quick Sandwiches: Peanut butter and jelly is an easy go-to, and so are cold cuts.  If you have adventurous kids, look up a recipe and try something that is new for everyone!  
  • Easy drink: Fill up some water bottles or back some juice boxes to keep everyone hydrated.

Remember to pack a blanket, napkins, and any plates, cups, or utensils you may need.  Bug spray and sunscreen might be helpful, too!

5. Check Out Your Library

Not only is your library a great source for museum passes, but libraries are a great place to take children for a variety of other reasons, too.  While each library is different, many offer:

  • Summer reading programs
  • Classes and activities for kids of all ages (for a small fee or free)
  • Special events for families
  • Art displays to view
  • Children’s and teen’s book sections
  • Storytime for little ones

Best of all, the library is a really nice place to spend a quiet few hours, enjoying some books together out of the heat of a summer day.

Enjoy your time together this summer!

Summer Reading List

Summer is here!

This may mean the end of school for the year but that shouldn’t mean a break from reading.  Reading, and being read to, is critically important for children’s language development.  Reading to infants and toddlers gives parents a chance to model our spoken language.  Preschoolers and kindergarteners are learning about sounds and words; your reading aloud to them will help them delight in the magic of the written word, eventually leading them to begin decoding for themselves.  As children get older, it is important for them to spend time reading independently, but reading together can continue on into the preteen years (and perhaps beyond!)  Children appreciate spending time with their parents, and there’s something special about slowing down and enjoying a book together.  

Read on for some fun summer suggestions. (Click on the book images to go to that book's page on Amazon)

 

Should I Share My Ice Cream? By Mo Willems

Really, anything by Willems is sure to be a hit.  While he is best known for his series of books about keeping a mischievous pigeon out of trouble, his Elephant and Piggie series is very popular with early readers.  In this delightful tale, elephant Gerald contemplates the pros and cons of sharing his ice cream with his best friend, Piggie.  The twist ending is a sweet surprise.

 

Cocoa Ice by Diana Karter Appelbaum, illustrated by Holly Meade

Cocoa Ice is the story of two young girls who live in very different climates.  One child helps her family harvest and prepare cocoa beans to eat, sell, and trade.  The other child watches as ice is cut into large blocks and loaded onto a schooner that heads to the tropics.  While the children never meet, they are connected by their curiosity about each other as well as their love of the sweet treat, cocoa ice.

 

The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Stephen Gammell

This book will be loved by anyone who has ever had a house full of relatives.  The character’s family comes to visit from out of town, and while life may feel a little cramped, the time spent together in the hot summer sun makes it more than worth it.  The illustrations are wonderful, but even the words themselves create a vivid visual.

 

Fireflies! by Julie Brinckloe

At first glance this book tells a story that so many of us have experienced as a child: the joy of running outside on a warm summer night to catch fireflies in a jar.  While that simple theme is the main plot, the character’s internal experiences offer great opportunities for discussion with children.  Parents may want to note that on one page the child misuses a pair of scissors without his mother’s permission to cut holes in the lid of the jar.  At the end of the book, he is also confronted with the challenging decision about what to do with the fireflies as their blinking light begins to fade within the jar.  (Spoiler: he makes the right choice and releases them!)

 

Bailey Goes Camping by Kevin Henkes

This book will be especially appealing to younger siblings.  Bailey’s older brother and sister are gearing up for a camping trip, but Bailey doesn’t get to go because he’s too young.  Luckily his parents have some ideas to help him have his own camping experience.

 

Watermelon Day by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Dale Gottlieb

Jesse can hardly wait to take a bite of sweet, cool, refreshing watermelon.  All summer long she watches as the melon grows larger in the garden.  When her father finally decides it’s ripe enough to cut off the vine, she must wait all day while the melon cools in the chilly water.  Her family gathers for a summer celebration, capped off, off course, with a delicious treat.

 

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Sal and her mother head out to pick wild blueberries one warm summer day.  On the other side of the hill a mother bear and her cub are doing the same.  The two youngsters wander off, meet up with the wrong mothers (much to the mothers’ surprise!), and eventually find their way back.  This book will charm parents and make little ones giggle.

 

One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey

Sal (from Blueberries for Sal) is a little older in this story, but she brings readers on a journey that many children (and their parents) will be able to relate to.  Sal wakes up with her first loose tooth one morning, and while she initially upset she quickly becomes excited at this sign that she is growing up.  Sadly, she very literally loses her tooth, and spends the day learning

 

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

This award-winning title is definitely for older kids (10 and up).  It is lyrically written and follows three sisters through their experiences during the summer of 1968 when they leave Brooklyn to visit their estranged mother in Oakland, California.  Williams-Garcia’s historical fiction delves into difficult subject matter such as reconnecting with an absent parent and the racial struggles during that time period.

 

National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA Centennial Edition

Planning a family trip to one (or more!) national parks this summer?  Pick up this guide for your kids and they can help plan, as well as get excited to learn about and visit these amazing resources!