Summer is well under way by now, and if you're like most parents, you've probably heard the oft-repeated phrase "I'm bored" just a few more times than you'd like. And, like a lot of conscientious homeschool moms, you may be wondering if your kids will forget everything they learned during the last school year before the new one even begins in September. Wouldn't it be great if you could break the cycle of boredom and help keep your kids' minds active and learning at the same time?

Pondering the issue of fun summertime learning, I asked a handful of our regular columnists and authors here at Home School Enrichment to share their favorite ideas for making learning enjoyable and interesting during the boredom-plagued months of summer. Being the helpful and innovative group they are, they soon gave me an extensive list of creative ideas that can add some fun and unique learning to your summer.

IDEA #1: CREATE "SUMMER DAY" BOXES

Suzanne Broadhurst writes, "Gather cardboard boxes, plastic crates, or plastic storage boxes. It doesn't matter if they're all the same. It's the contents that matter, not the container. Label with titles such as 'Craft Stuff,' 'Science Stuff,' 'Math Stuff,' 'Historical Stuff,' 'Outdoor Play,' 'Water Play/Experiments,' etc." After this, she suggests keeping an eye out at garage sales, clearance racks, your own bookshelves, kitchen, laundry room, garage, etc., for anything that might fit into one of those categories. "Keep them handy, available and easy to get into," she continues, "even if that means out in the living room where God and everybody can see them. When the 'Mommy, I'm bored' syndrome strikes, point to the boxes, giving them free reign to explore, learn, and clean up afterwards."

IDEA #2: READ, READ, READ, READ

"Give each other time and space to be alone with your reading," writes Tamara Willey. "I love reading marathons where you get to read all day and not be interrupted. Have food brought in or snack food already prepared for the day. Maybe have at least one marathon day a month (if not more often). No one messes up a house when they're reading a book all day! Just be sure to balance it with getting out in the real world afterward!"

Melanie Hexter and Melissa Pinkley also suggest the value of getting involved in your local library's summer reading program. Melanie writes, "We always participate in our library's summer reading program. The kids, whether independent readers or not, set their own goals (number of books, number of pages, or timed reading) and log their reading over two months' time. At the end, they submit their log to the librarian to receive a free book of their choice and a nice goody bag from the library (coupons from local merchants, etc.)."

IDEA #3: JOURNALING

Several folks suggested the value of journaling during the summer months. Don't worry if it sounds difficult or too academic. It can be easier--and more fun!--than you might think. Tamara Willey says, "If your family has not gotten into the habit of journaling, this is a good way to do it. Relief is on the way for those who hate to write--you can journal via sketch-work, or pasting in representative photos or pictures (do caption these though), or schematics of a project being worked on. Journaling doesn't have to be writing stylish sentences. Journal diary-style. You are logging a record of goals, ideas to be worked on later, impressions, Bible study thoughts and revelations, funny sayings from the children or siblings, goals, etc. Have a 'Journal Reading Festival' at the end of summer planned so that everyone can read their journal or swap and read each others (if they are willing)."

Maribeth Spangenberg adds, "One summer, I bought all my children notebooks, and three times a week I had them journal. It was nothing elaborate or detailed, and involved anything from impromptu assignments, to descriptions, to telling about their previous day, or what they hoped to do that present day. It could even be something that they learned in personal devotions. Each morning I'd give them an assignment and tell them to write for 15 minutes. I did not correct spelling or grammar, so there was no pressure on either them or me. But I would always read each one myself, or sometimes make them read it aloud to each other. Then I would find something positive to compliment them on, and sometimes offer suggestions of ways they could expound on their writing the next day. As time went on, I would see improvement in length, descriptions, content, and imagination, which were my primary goals."