Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review/Giveaway: Summer Fit Learning

I’m a big fan of year-round learning.  It’s a bit ludicrous to me that learning should just stop for a few months while little absorbent-sponge minds dry out.

However, there is something about the warm days of summer that just begs for a change of pace.  More outside time.  More lemonade and tea parties and chalk-hopscotch and bubble painting and trips to the park or the beach.  More exploration of God’s amazing creations.

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Summer Fit workbooks fit that change of pace perfectly.  Almost eerily so.  Miss Esmé adopted a caterpillar the other day while we were working in the yard, only to come inside and discover her Summer Fit “Mind challenge” worksheet was about the life cycle of butterflies.  Wow!Butterfly


SF.Cover.1-2Be Smart.  Be Active.  Be Cool.

Prepare Mentally, Physically and Socially for the Grade Ahead.

The new Summer Fit workbook series keeps young minds and bodies in shape during summer by helping you create simple, fun routines in your home that will positively impact your child’s academic, physical and social performance throughout the school year.

Summer Fit integrates online resources with workbook-based learning to help students retain basic skills in reading, writing, and math and language arts while keeping them physically active on a daily basis. With a special focus on the “Body-Brain” connection, Summer Fit workbooks provide you with an extensive overview and summer learning routine that emphasizes the growing body of research that focuses on the importance of physical exercise and brain exercise complimenting each other as a balanced part of you child’s upbringing.

John Ratey, a Harvard clinical associate professor of psychiatry, argues for more physical fitness for students as a cure for not only their obesity but also their academic performance. "I cannot underestimate how important regular exercise is in improving the function and performance of the brain." Ratey writes. "Exercise stimulates our gray matter to produce Miracle-Gro for the brain."

Summer Fit weaves a daily fitness routine developed with input from coaches and trainers throughout the country with a full review of each grade’s core curriculum skills in reading, writing, language arts and math. This workbook series is an easy to use summer program that keeps children physically active and learning. Core values are stressed as part of a balanced learning experience using historical and modern figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman and Bethany Hamilton. Online resources include bonus activity sheets in reading and math, interactive reading and math games and fitness videos to show children how to properly perform daily exercises.

Summer Fit has partnered with several national and local organizations that promote active and balanced lifestyles including the MLS W.O.R.K.S Active Bodies Active Minds (ABAM) program which is a soccer-centered community outreach initiative that provides resources to motivate and reward children for being mentally and physically fit. Children can join the Active Bodies Active Minds Club at www.joinABAM.com and receive access to fitness, nutrition and reading resources to help them stay active during the summer and year round.

Recommended Age:  Options available from PK-K to Grade 4-5
Price:  List Price:  $12.95; currently on Amazon for $9.85
For More Info/Samples/Free Activities:  http://www.summerfitlearning.com/
Summer Fit on Facebook:
  http://www.facebook.com/summerfitlearning for updates, promotions, activities, and fun facts.

How We’re Using It:

  • We’re using the Grade 1-2 Summer Fit book.
  • There are ten weeks of activities – 5 days per week
  • Each week starts with an incentive contract to be signed by the parent.  If Esmé completes all the activities, I agree to some type of reward.  So far the rewards have been a tea party picnic and a trip to a ranch.  Others coming up:  a movie day, a trip to Wildlife Safari, a trip to the beach, ice cream, etc.  Stuff we might already be trying to fit into our schedule, but the agreement helps on both sides!
  • Each day includes a “Mind” activity (generally two worksheets) and a “Body” activity – or challenge, as we like to call them.  When they are complete, they are checked off on the incentive agreement page.  There is also a place to write down intentional actions related to the value of the week, so we include a discussion of that as well.  This can all be easily done within a half hour to an hour, though you can extend the activities with online resources or your own ideas.  For instance, the Hide and Seek “body” challenge took considerably longer than most.
  • The Mind activities include a nice blend of subjects:  health, science, math, reading, phonics, language arts, etc.  With two worksheets, each day usually touches on two of the subjects.  Esmé doesn’t have a conventional 1st grade background, but so far for us, the worksheets have been a good combination of new and review material. Summer Fit
  • The Body activities include a mix of Aerobic, Strength, and Sport.  Three options are given each day.  I discuss these with Esmé and let her pick one; then I tell her how many or how long the challenge is.
  • The 5th day of the week is a focus on Values.  There is a short bio of a famous person who demonstrates the value of the week, some comprehension questions, a relevant book list, and additional activities.  This is a nice wrap-up to the value we’ve already been discussing each day.

What Mom Likes: 

  • It Meets Us Where We Are At.  This level is just perfect for Miss Esmé.  While the program expectations are clear and consistent, the variety of activities keeps her engaged from day to day.  It fits into already busy days, but can be expanded with additional activities on days when we have more time.  And it’s easy to pack along when we’re on the road.
  • Attractive Layout.  The worksheets are colorful and appealing.  Esmé has on several occasions asked to work ahead (very rare for my worksheet-hating kiddo), just because she’s attracted to the pictures on the next page.
  • Wide Focus.  I appreciate how it touches on a variety of topics with a variety of actions (coloring, circling, writing, etc.).  The physical activity is a great complement to the worksheets, and the value studies (with read-aloud time) just wrap it all up neatly.
  • Fun.  It’s plain fun!  The physical activities have nice twists to them, like “Turtle and Rabbit” (alternating slow and fast running).
  • Crazy Kid
  • Incentive Approach.  That’s ultimately what is making this program work so well for us.  Esmé knows up front exactly what she needs to do each week.  It’s doable, even on the busiest of days.  She looks forward each week to the reward at the end.  And I’m more motivated to make sure we get out and do those fun activities when I know Esmé has been working for the reward.

Overall, this is a nice fit for both the year-long learner who wants a change of pace for the summer and for the kiddo who is on break and/or busy with a variety of summer activities but wants something to retain and expand on all that knowledge he’s worked all school year on gaining.

Giveaway!  We’ve got one copy of Summer Fit for one of you!  Open to US only; winner chosen randomly after giveaway ends on 6/26.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer:  Thanks to Summer Fit for providing copies of their Summer Fit books for purposes of review and giveaway, and to MediaGuests for coordinating this review.

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Mami2jcn said...

I entered on the rafflecopter with my Facebook username (Mary Happymommy) but I follow in GFC as Mami2jcn. Thanks!