Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Florida Field Trips #4: Secret Lake Park

Dear friends,

Now that our school year is out for the summer, the kids are eager to visit public parks as often as possible.  Today, my four youngest children chose nearby Secret Lake Park in Casselberry which is nestled among the three lakes on Triplet Lake Drive.  No matter where you live, you can probably find a park like Secret Lake.  Just explore the possibilities!

There is a wonderful playground with a huge wavy climbing structure, a spinning metal and rope carousel, swings, slides, etc.  We actually didn't spend much time on the playground today, so we'll have to go back soon.  

Micah made a beeline for the lake shore with the camera when we got there, and took these pictures of the purple flower and the spider web.  

When we went to look for Micah, we ended up taking a walk down by the canal.  We should have been better prepared!  The kids remembered how much fun it was to try to catch little fish in the canal, but we hadn't brought any containers to catch or store them.  As it turned out, I happened to see a stand with doggie cleanup bags, so that's what we used for storing them.  They caught them with their bare hands, which is no easy feat.  Next time, we bring a net and a bucket, as well as shoes more appropriate for water!  (I loaned my crocs to Naomi.)

Just got some plastic bags from the dog cleanup station...

They caught some and are taking home their trophies in the doggie bags...

A white ibis

Beautiful park!


A vulture swooping around above

The guppies in a container at home, before their new bowl was set up.

Our plan is to visit at least one park each week.  I'll let you know if we go to any really good ones!  If you have any ideas for us, leave a comment!

Meanwhile, here is some information from the Secret Lake Park web page.

Nestled within three lakes, Secret Lake Park boasts an abundance of options for any lifestyle. For the more active there is basketball, softball, tennis, racquetball and soccer. For those looking to relax and enjoy nature there is the boardwalk connected to the sidewalk which meanders through the entire park, as well as the newly built fishing pier. There is even a playground for the little ones. Secret Lake Park is home to the Casselberry Recreation Center. Whether you're looking for a peaceful place to walk, a pick up game of hoops or even hoping to watch a game of soccer or baseball, Secret Lake Park is the place to be.
Ball Field, Basketball Court, Racquetball Court(s), Tennis Court(s), Playground, Recreation path/boardwalk, Restrooms, 3 Pavilions (1 with electricity), and Casselberry Recreation Center.  For reservation/rental information for the pavilion, call or visit the Casselberry Recreation Center, (407) 262-7700 Ext. 1575 or at 200 N. Triplet Lake Drive. Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Writing with Journals and Blogs

Dear friends,

We are officially finishing our school year this Friday, though we have been tapering down for a couple of weeks.  I still want my kids to keep their brains active over the summer, especially with math, reading, and basic writing skills.  (Those are the 3R's, right?)  Yet I don't want them to feel like they are "doing school" (or at least much of it) during our time off. Two of my kids have some of their math workbooks to finish up (oh well!), but I think we can also come up with some hands-on projects and games to use their math skills.  They already like playing Monopoly, Pente, Yahtzee, and other games.  They can read books of their choice from the library about subjects that interest them.  

For summer writing, my first big idea is to have them keep informal journals about what they are doing and thinking each day.  In fact, my 10 year old daughter has kept a journal this past month, and it seems to be an engaging and fairly painless way to get her to write.  Not only that, it gives me an extra window into her world.  The journal is a cute, colorful little one with puppies on it.  I bought it at a dollar store.  Nothing intimidating!  She likes to write about her baby nephew coming to visit, or what she is making, all the fun things she thinks our family should do this summer, or sometimes that things that frustrate her.  I didn't start journaling until I was a teenager, and though there were long gaps during my adulthood where I didn't keep one regularly, it's still I habit I try to cultivate.

My second summer writing idea, also something we're already doing, is blogging.  All of my school age kids, except for the one in kindergarten, have their own blogs.   This is a particularly fitting idea for middle school, especially if your kids know how to upload photos and videos.  Most of them are private, accessible only to family members, but it gives them a way to learn and have fun at the same time.  They often write about educational activities like bird watching or science experiments.

Give it a try!

What are your plans for continuing a learning lifestyle during the summer?  Leave a comment for me!

See also:
Virginia Knowles
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