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This is the place to find the latest news and updates about Wilcox Elementary. We will update this page as often as possible to give you information about the school as well as relevant articles for teachers, parents, and students. Check back often to find out what’s going on at WES.

Planning Summer Activities

Now that the excitement of school ending has expired, and the long hot days of summer are upon us, the ever dreaded boredom has settled into the household. Although we would all love to “vacation” for the summer, it’s not always an affordable or available option for our families.

Entertaining your kids for 8+ hours a day can be a daunting task ; however, with a little time and planning, you will be able to create a busy (but affordable) schedule that suits your  family’s needs.

The goal of planning is to prevent your kids from having the “same old” schedule and becoming bored. Remember, a day of “down time” can also be planned between all the busier activities.   One of the most difficult parts of planning activities is generating ideas. Luckily, there are several online websites and blogs available that will help you generate your own ideas. We’ve put together a handy list of websites to help inspire you!

While planning, thinking “big” can prevent us from seeing the easy and simple things. Entertainment and activities don’t mean amusement parks and fancy toys but finding ways to enjoy the things that are already around us. For example, learn and explore your own hometown and surrounding communities. Begin by planning a trip to the library to research the town’s or city’s history. Later that day, allow the kids to present their information to the entire family, and then allow everyone to help plan a tour of their town or city for the next day, days, or weeks. Not only will this save you time from traveling, but it can also be very educational.  Additionally, by staying local, you will have much more control of your budget.

Planning doesn’t mean scheduling every hour of every day but merely being prepared to take on the days and weeks of summer with your kids. It’s important to be flexible, create back-up activities, and even have an emergency activity when all else fails. Include your kids in the planning to help nurture their creative side, and additionally, they will be learning how to entertain themselves along the way.

Lastly, remember to enjoy the “lazy” days of summer before the chaos of schoolwork and extracurricular activities ensue!

Word Clouds

Parents often look for ways to keep children involved in learning, particularly during the summer. These efforts by parents are essential, as educational research shows that the typical child can lose a month or more of learning over the summer months.

Building word clouds is a fun, easy, and learning-filled way to support reading, comprehension, and vocabulary. A word cloud is a visual way to creatively group words or terms together and built around just about anything, such as a story, an idea, or an activity. It can be used as an introduction to a lesson or as a closing activity. The great thing about a word cloud is that the sky is the limit!  

You can build a word cloud with paper and markers or crayons or a word processor. Or, you can engage students quickly by using one of the many free websites available online. You will find some examples of user-friendly word cloud builders on the Tagxedo, ABCya, and Wordle websites.

Word clouds do not take a large amount of time for preparation. They also can be used for any age level. To support reading comprehension skills, it can be as simple as leafing through a story and listing the vocabulary words, usually in bold print. A more creative approach would be for the child to pick a subject, such as a family pet, a poem, or a favorite sport, and then list every word that comes to mind relating to that selection. For an older child, technical or typically uninteresting terminology can come to life with a word cloud.

Once the child has selected the words, the next step is to decide which of the words should be emphasized. Kids can give special attention to words by using them several times or by changing font sizes, styles, and colors. It’s also fun to play with the way the words are positioned in the cloud. Backgrounds are also usually an option in the Web versions, as is the actual shape of the cloud. Imagine a word cloud about “Fido,” shaped like a puppy...fluffy, silly, bouncy, loving, adorable, cuddly.

Make summer activities fun with word clouds. In the end, they can be a great learning tool and visual snapshot of what children know, learn, and imagine.