5 Days of Fun, Frugal, Summer Activities: Day 4


Explore the Greenbelt. You can stretch this into a summer adventure by taking one segment at a time. The loop contains sixteen miles of paved pathways around Carrollton which you can walk or bike. In fact, you can use any non-motorized mode of transportation. Use this map to choose a starting point. Your journey can become an opportunity to develop your child’s map reading skills. Be sure to make plenty of stops just to enjoy the scenic beauty, listen to birds, and watch wildlife. Near Hobb’s Farm, take a break at the wetlands area overlook. If you’re patient, you’re sure to spot something interesting. Several parks are located on or near the trail so pack a picnic lunch and save some bread for feeding the ducks on Lake Carroll.

If you would like a longer, more strenuous course, try the Silver Comet Trail which extends from 285 to the Georgia/Alabama border. Please comment on any other trails you enjoy.

5 Days of Fun, Frugal, Summer Activities: Day 3

children and nature

Natural areas are always favorite places for children to explore. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel far or spend much money to take advantage of nature in west Georgia. Summer is an even better time to visit these places due to special interpretive programs offered.

McIntosh Reserve Carroll County operates several parks which offer amenities such as camping, horseback trails, fishing, etc. A favorite destination is McIntosh Reserve which was once home to Creek Chief William McIntosh. It is located on the Chattahoochee River and has a reconstruction of McIntosh’s home. Each month the Friends of McIntosh Reserve sponsor a Walk and Talk program; the next Walk and Talk is Saturday, June 18. University of West Georgia biology professor Frank Fontanella will educate participants on reptiles and amphibians. The program begins at 9AM. For these activities, the normal $5 parking fee is waived, so this is a free event! Find out more about Carroll County Parks and their facilities and the Friends of McIntosh Reserve.

Historic Banning Mills If you’re a West Georgia resident, you have probably heard of their zip line tours. However, did you realize that Banning Mills regularly host “Winged Ambassadors?” As the name suggests, their mission is to educate the public about the value of birds of prey. Everyone in the family will enjoy this show, and the cost is only $5/person. There are several opportunities available to see this program. Get all the dates here, but be sure to call 770-834-9149 for confirmation as dates are subject to change.

Sweetwater Creek State Park Special programs are scheduled throughout the summer, and many are tailored toward children. There’s program fee (several are $3 -$5 per person) plus $5 parking fee, but remember you can check out a parking pass  at your local library. Children will love Snakes Alive, Dragonfly Discovery, and Children’s Nature Hike. Get details such as dates and fees at gastateparks.org/SweetwaterCreek

5 Days of Fun, Frugal, Summer Activities: Day 2

Great memories are made at summer camp. Today’s post features one overnight and several day camps.

summer camp

Camp Grandview This is the Salvation Army’s camp for children located in Jasper, GA. They have three spaces available for June 20 – 25, for girls ages 7 – 12.  Campers have a great time as evidenced by this video. The camp is free; transportation is provided by bus from Carrollton. If interested, you must act quickly. Parents or guardians will need to complete an application at the Carrollton Service Center, located at 115 Lake Carroll Blvd, provide a copy of the child’s vaccination record, and a physical report of good health (must have been performed within the past year) by Friday, June 10. For more information, call 770-830-0120 . For readers who live in other areas, contact your Salvation Army service center for camp information.

Carrollton Cultural Arts Camps. These day camps meet Monday through Friday. They offer both visual and performance art camps so your child can develop her creative side.  The art camps range from free to $50 and include supplies. The theater camps conclude with a live public performance on the following Saturday evening; admission fee is $2. Primary theater camp is open to children ages 4 – 7 and costs $45. The children’s theater camp is for ages 8 – 12 and costs $75. Go here to learn more.

University of West Georgia Camps. Whatever your child’s age or interest, UWG continuing education has a camp for him! This is also a great way to sneak in some academics this summer; check out all the choices for these day camps. Both half day and full days are offered. The costs range from $79 to $300/camp.

5 Days of Fun, Frugal, Summer Activities: Day 1


Today,  I’m singing the praises of West Georgia’s regional libraries system’s summer reading program. When I was a child, our weekly visits to the local library were a treat. Just browsing in an air conditioned building and leaving with an armload of books motivated me to read all summer long. Now libraries offer incentives for reading and attending programs in which special guests entertain and educate at the same time. Some of the offerings this summer are magic shows, storytelling, Lego mine meld, and animal shows, including a reptile show at the Dog River library. Many offer a different program for teenagers; I noticed “broomball” on the calendar for the teen reading program at the Neva Lomason library. Be sure to check out all the different libraries’ programs. In addition to its summer reading program,  the Douglas county library has visiting reading therapy dogs. I love the idea of reading a story while petting a dog. The dogs have a calming effect on the children, and the child can choose any book she wants to read. All of these programs are free of charge; go here to sign up your child for summer reading. To learn more about the reading therapy dogs at the Douglas county library, go here.

How Can I Motivate My Child to Read?

boy reading

Many parents have asked me a variation of this question. These suggestions are mainly for struggling readers who will do anything to avoid reading. Peruse the list; use what you like; the most important factor is consistency.

  1. Set aside time each day as family reading time. If one of your children is a weak reader, but the others are avid readers, then he won’t feel singled out if everyone participates. You choose a time of day which you will be able to keep most consistently, whether it be morning, afternoon, or evening. You may want to start with fifteen minutes and gradually add more time. Let everyone choose his own reading material, the only requirement is that everyone is reading or listening to a story during that time. If your child prefers audio books, have him follow along with a hard copy. This is your excuse to set aside household chores and indulge yourself in a good book or magazine. No devices are allowed during this time, except for audio or e-reading. Make a commitment to do this the entire summer. You may have to miss some days, and some days will not go well, and you will think, “This is not working.” When you reach that point, remind yourself that you are committed to this until school resumes. By August, I guarantee that you will be pleased with the results.
  2. Allow for a variety of reading material. There are  limitless choices. A favorite of mine is magazines. You can find a variety on many levels covering any imaginable topic. Unlike a story, most articles can be read in part, and your child will benefit from improved fluency, vocabulary, as well as gaining knowledge on that topic. Picture books are written for all levels. I like to browse the youth section of the children’s room at our local library to find good picture books at fourth and fifth grade levels. One of my favorite is Rudy Rides the Rails. Other choices for older readers are Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul and devotional books. Some parents have expressed concern to me that their children pick easy books. That’s o.k. because they are still reading. You can try to guide them to more challenging materials, but let it go if they resist.
  3. Popcorn reading. If your child needs help with reading comprehension or decoding, you can incorporate some popcorn reading. You read a page, then he reads a page. This can be modified where you read more, and he reads less, or vice versa. Since you’re reading together, you can ask questions in a more natural way. Do  you think the character is scared? How do you know?  As fluency improves, you can require him to read more. I notice that some children are more willing to read when an adult engages with them. One important suggestion is that you hold off on correcting them. I like to let the child finish a paragraph before rereading the sentence with the mistake. Many times, they correct themselves. If they don’t, I will ask, “Does that sound right to you?” Only at this point do I help if needed.
  4. Make It Fun. As  a family,  you can listen to an audio book. This is great because you can do this on long car trips also. Another fun activity is to turn off all lights and read by flashlight. Young children love to play with flashlights, and this trains beginning readers in tracking text. You  can also use stories as a riddle. Plan a trip to a blueberry farm; the day before read Blueberries for Sal, then ask your child(ren) to guess what activity you’re going to do. You can find other stories to fit any activity. Your children’s librarian is a great resource for ideas.
  5. Record their progress. I notice that children become more confident when they can measure their progress. You can simply keep a chart and use tally marks for pages read. If you want to reward them, you can drop a penny in a jar for each page. Your child will enjoy watching the jar fill as the summer progresses.

What would you like to add to this list?

Georgia State Parks and Historic Site Passes

How does a day trip sound? Georgia has over sixty state parks and historic sites, and each has something unique to offer. Need another reason to visit? You can check out a ParkPass kit from your public library which will save you the $5 parking fee at the state parks. The historic site pass gives free admission for up to four visitors.

Indian Mound
You can climb prehistoric mounds built by Native Americans at Kolomoki Mounds State Park and Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site.

It’s easy to plan your visit:

  1. Go to the Georgia State Park website and choose a nearby park or historic site.
  2. Once you find a destination, click the link to that park’s website for activities and special events. You may want to go when you can take a guided nature walk or enjoy another interpretive program such as learning about reptiles. There may be an event fee for some programs so contact the site if unsure. If the park has a lake, check for canoe or paddleboat rentals.
  3. Go to your local library and ask for the state park or historic site pass. You can check it out for one week.

If you’re a teacher, don’t forget that today is the last day to enter the Teacher Appreciation Giveaway for a free membership to  Friends of Georgia State Parks. Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites are celebrating their 85th anniversary. Many sites have special events planned to commemorate this milestone. So pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the great Georgia outdoors!

Summertime Tutoring


The school year is ending here in west Georgia. Today is the last day for many schools in this area, and some will let out next week. While many parents see summer break as a time to get away from academics, for the struggling student, it is an opportunity to catch up. Just a few hours of one-on-one tutoring can make a tremendous difference when school resumes. For others, it means they remain sharp and continue to advance their skills. Two years ago, as we were getting ready for a new school year, I commented to my student J. that she was working more quickly with fewer mistakes. I loved her response, “I used to think math was a monster, now I think it’s easy.”

If given the preference of working with a child during the school year or summer break, I choose summer. After tutoring for eight years, I see the most significant progress in those students I work with June- July. There are a couple of reasons for this. During the school year, the focus is on completing school assignments and test preparation; in contrast, the focus is on strengthening a child’s weak areas during summer tutoring. Another factor which I believe plays a very important role is peer pressure or lack of it during summer. While I believe in healthy competition, when a child gets so far behind, he begins to think he is dumb when he hears classmates talk about how easy that test was or bragging on getting A’s. The struggling student begins to view school as an insurmountable obstacle. When a child gets help in the summer, the work is tailored to his needs; his only competitor is himself; and as he practices, he becomes more aware of his improvement. I also add a few more games in summer to make the work more palatable.

Do you have to hire a tutor? Absolutely not! Children are eager to learn, and summer is a great opportunity to sneak in some teaching without a child realizing it. I’ll continue to post about opportunities I discover, and be sure to check past posts in Learning Opportunities. A great idea my friend had was to give her children three review math problems which they had to complete before beginning their fun activities each day. Local libraries have great summer reading programs. Read my post from summer 2015 at iheartpublix for ideas to combine grocery shopping with math practice.

But if you know your child needs the support and consistency private tutoring offers, then I believe the investment is well worth it. Several years ago, I worked with a weak reader who was preparing for fifth grade. Although I only worked with him during the summer, his reading drastically improved.He is now in high school and making honor roll. If you want to hire a tutor, a good place to start is by asking your child’s teacher. Post a request on facebook and other social media. And of course, if you’re in the west Georgia area, I would love to work with your child. You can find my contact information in the About Category. Have a great summer!

I and other readers would love to hear your suggestions for continuing the learning process during school breaks in the comments.