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Creative Summer Learning Ideas

June 25, 2019
By Samantha Cleaver

There's no getting around it:  Over the summer months, our students can lose up to 60% of the math and reading skills that they learned during the year. 

Summer Math Activities


Help students maintain their math skills and keep them thinking in numbers all summer long.

For Grades K–3:

 What can you buy for $5 at the corner store? From the ice cream truck? In a hardware store? At the beach?
Change it up: Start collecting change in a jar on the first day of summer. On the last day, estimate your change, count it, and plan a special purchase.
Summer patterns: Create patterns using summer items (popsicle sticks, shells, flowers). Or, draw patterns in the sand or dirt using a stick or your hands. See how long you can carry out your pattern — along the length of the sandbox, or across the grass.
Napkin fractions: Fold paper towels or napkins into large and small fractions, from one-half to 1/16. Use markers to label and decorate the different fractions.
Design hunt: Keep an eye out for shapes, patterns, and designs when you’re out and about. You never know what you’ll find in the architecture at the airport, the shopping mall, or even the grocery store.
100% delicious: Use ice cream to make fraction sundaes. Can you make an ice cream sundae that is one-half vanilla and one-half chocolate? What about one-third chocolate, one-third vanilla, and one-third strawberry? Can you cover a scoop of ice cream with one-quarter each nuts, sprinkles, cookie crumbs, and gummy bears? Or can you eat a bite of ice cream that is one-half chocolate, one-half vanilla? For older children, calculate the percentage of each ice cream flavor in the sundae.

For Grades 4–8:

Record-breakers: Use a stopwatch to time yourself running, roller blading, swimming, or biking. Then try to beat your time. Be sure to keep the distance you’re moving the same for each trial. Graph the results. (You may need a partner for this.)
Where will you be? Using a map, calculate where you will you be if you travel 20, 50, 100, or 1,000 miles from home.
How many ways? As you’re exploring your neighborhood during the summer, how many routes can you take to the school, the grocery store, the mall, or your friend’s house? The catch: No backtracking, and you must take a new route each time.
Let’s eat: Prepare a meal or dish for the family. Before you go to the supermarket, find a recipe, write what you need and how much. At the supermarket, choose the best-priced option.

Summer Reading Activities

These ideas will keep kids engaged in reading, writing, and thinking creatively even on the hottest days.

Water writer: Using a pail of water and a brush, have kids write words on the blacktop or sidewalk.
Sell summer: Tell kids: Try a new product or activity and write about it. How would you describe it? Would you recommend it? Create an advertisement to sell it to others.
Plan a trip: Have kids use the Internet, travel guidebooks, brochures, and maps to plan a dream day, weekend, week, or month-long trip.
Summer sleuth: Have kids follow a story in a newspaper during the summer, or investigate a local story (e.g., an upcoming fair). Tell kids: Write about the event as it unfolds so that you have it documented from start to finish.
Play it: Take an adventure book with a clear plot (The Phantom Tollbooth, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, etc.) and invent a board game based on it.
Comic strip: Write a comic strip about a fictional character or yourself. See how long you can keep the strip going. Read classic comics for inspiration.

Summer Science Fun

Summer is the perfect time for children to explore their extracurricular interests, like science. Here are some activities that will have children hypothesizing all the way to September.

Map the weather: Keep a running log of the weather. Include temperature, humidity, clouds, precipitation, wind, air pressure. Can you predict what the weather will be tomorrow?
Invent a recipe for a summer drink and share it with your friends. For example, the Citrus Sizzler: 1/2 cup Sprite, 1/2 cup pineapple juice, 1 spritz lime juice.
Museum gallery: Collect pinecones, rocks, shells, or other natural objects to organize, categorize, and label. Present your own natural history museum.
Hot-weather inventor: Design an invention that you can use during summer. Some ideas: sunglasses that change color from red to yellow to blue, or a new beach toy.
Answer a question: How long does it take an ice cube to melt outside in the summer heat? In the refrigerator? In an air conditioned room?
Float or sink: In a pool or the bathtub, hypothesize which items (soap, dry sock, bottle of shampoo, rock, etc.) will float or sink. Test your hypotheses.

Great Books in the Movies

These movie releases of favorite children’s titles will keep you entertained all summer long:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Enter into the post apocalyptic world of Panem, and watch as Katniss enters a fight-to-the-death in the Capitol's Hunger Games.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: Pick your favorite title from the series or watch all seven years of Harry's adventures as the Boy Who Lived.

Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene: The ever-perky, resourceful young detective stumbles across a long-unsolved crime.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan: Young Percy Jackson realizes his true roots and begins a quest to stop a war between the gods of Greek mythology.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis: This live-action and computer-enhanced version takes the classic story to a new level.

Keeping Kids Motivated


Parent involvement during the summer months is crucial to student success. According to the National Education Association, “Parents who are actively involved in their children’s learning at home help their children become more successful learners in and out of school.” Encourage parents with a final newsletter full of activities that will stave off forgetfulness and even build skills over the summer.

  • Set aside time each day to read. Track the books your child reads and reward him or her with a special activity or treat when he or she reaches certain milestones (for example, every 10th book).
  • Do art projects based on favorite titles, such as drawing a favorite scene, or making paper bag puppets.
  • Visit your local library. Many libraries have wonderful summer reading programs that reward children for the number of books they read.
  • Make every day educational. Children learn problem-solving, math, science, and vocabulary as they help with groceries, laundry, and cooking.
  • Create a summer scrapbook. Save postcards and movie tickets, record family stories or interesting events from each day, whether you’re going on vacation or just going to your neighborhood park.

Roadworthy Car Games

For kids on the bus or families on vacation, put those long rides to good use with activities that keep the kids busy and build reading and math skills.

For grades K–3:
Car bingo: Create a car bingo card with words, shapes, colors, and items that children will likely see during a trip (stop signs, billboards, railroad signs, etc.) to reinforce reading skills, math, and sight words.
The number game: Look out the window and call out when you see one, two, three, or four of something, and so on.
The alphabet game: One person chooses the right side of the road, and the other chooses the left. Call out objects that you see in alphabetical order (you can use a sign only for one letter). The first person to get to the letter "z" wins.

For grades 4–8:
Capital game: Take note of each license plate you see, not by state, but by state capital. The first to correctly identify 10 state capitals wins.
Cow game: One person takes the right side of the road, the other takes the left. Keep count of all the cows you see. You earn one point for each cow. When you see a cemetery out of your side of the car, you lose all your points.
Animals galore: Decide on a number of points for each animal that you see (cow = 1 point, horse = 1 point, pig = 2 points, etc.). As you drive, add up the points. Play until one person gets 10 points, or for a set time.
Math with license plates: Use the numbers on license plates to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and number patterns and see just how creative kids can get!


We are sharing this great blog from

The Sacrifice of Having What's Valuable

May 28, 2019
By CCS Parent

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT

There is nothing more valuable to God than us. That is why He sent Jesus. He sacrificed the most important thing in order to gain us back. God knew that His investment would result in the highest return, but it had to cost Him something in the beginning and for a brief moment in time, knowing full well that it was worth the sacrifice.

J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan once said: “Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”

If we are honest with ourselves, sacrifice is not something we like to hear or do. If you are like me, sometimes you find yourself trying to figure out a way to not have to give something up (like my time, money, or energy) in order to maintain what is valuable. I think that often times we make compromises in regard to what we really want in order to avoid making sacrifices to keep what is most valuable to us. It ends up costing us more in the long run.

My wife and I have 3 kids currently attending Calvin Christian. Aside from my relationship with Christ and my wife, there aren’t many things in life that are more valuable than my children. As a parent, I believe that I have a responsibility of raising them to be successful adults in all areas of life. For my wife and I, the spiritual and educational aspect of raising our kids is very important. That is the main reason we chose to send our children to Calvin Christian - because Calvin does both well.

I still remember the moment that solidified that decision for the 2 of us. We were attending a back to school night when our oldest son was in first grade. I remember his teacher telling the parents how she would come in every morning before the students arrived and stand behind one of the little desks and pray for that child for 30 minutes. At that moment, I realized that what was already valuable to us as parents, was also valuable to this school. We were both sold, committed and were determined to maintain this valuable relationship with Calvin Christian. Now mind you, this was before we had 2 other children, not fully realizing the cost that it would take to maintain this relationship. And every time it got challenging, and almost seemed like it would not work out having another attend, we reminded ourselves of what is valuable to us and what we are willing to do to maintain it. It does get hard, but we know that this sacrifice will have it’s reward, and most importantly that God will help us. The best part is, that He has helped us every step of the way.

“What you compromise to gain, you will eventually lose”. This was something that a former employer told me when I was a younger man. How true it is, even to this day. How many times in my own life have I compromised just to save some money, time or whatever? It ended up costing me more in the end. We all have done it and have some regrets as well. That is why it is important to continue to sacrifice to keep having what is valuable.

I leave you with this thought. Philippians 3:14 tells us to press on towards the goal. No matter how hard the sacrifice might be, keep it, because the rewards for that sacrifice will eventually outweigh the cost of it.


This is a repost from 2015

Christian Education is More Important Than Ever!

May 04, 2019
By Terry Kok

When my parents sent me to Christian school, there were a number of reasons they made that decision.  One reason was because they knew that I would have Christian teachers as models and that they would be teaching from a Biblical worldview. The other reason was because the school was academically good.

A generation later, I'd have to say that these were probably the same reasons my wife and I decided to send our children to Christian school as well.   

In the last fifteen years, I think there has been an addition to the primary reasons parents choose to send their children to Christian school.

Our country and our world, has become increasingly unfriendly to Christians, if not blatantly anti-Christian.  The Judeo/Christian culture that guided the morals and laws of our country are being eroded. People who hold the values consistent with a Biblical worldview are considered to be on the periphery and not consistent with the values of the culture.   Political leaders and other leaders, who claim strong Christian beliefs, are perceived negatively and are often marginalized.

Not only does this mean that Christian school graduates must have great knowledge of God's’ world and a strong personal commitment in their personal life, but they must also have greater tools to defend their faith in their adult years.  In addition to having knowledge of all the subjects they learned in school, they must also have clear answers to difficult questions they will face.

With an increasing number of Calvin graduates choosing non-Christian colleges where they might grow in this area, they will be in classes with professors, who in most cases, think Christianity is for weak-minded people.

How do we deal with this as parents and Christian school supporters? We must continue having teachers who not only teach knowledge but also help students articulate their knowledge of all areas of life in a Christian way and are ready to defend their faith as consistent with their knowledge and academic life.

Christian school is not the only answer to this problem but it is a huge part of preparing students for a world increasingly unfriendly to the Christian faith.   That is why I value Christian education now more than ever. I want Calvin to be here for the next generation. I want Calvin to have teachers in the classroom who help students know our Creator and His world as well as to understand that their Christian faith is consistent with an academic life.

Analysis is Everywhere

April 10, 2019
By Shelli Cammenga, CCHS English Teacher

This year I have English, Psychology,and Photography classes. These are technically different subjects, but you would be shocked at the overlap. You may not like reading. You may not like writing. You can even hate English class if you want. But without a doubt, you use what I teach every single day.  What I teach is not a list of authors, dates, or literary elements. What I teach is analysis. 

Day one in English, we don't jump right into the texts, but instead start with something each student interacts with every day, even if they don't read novels for fun: music. By comparing music videos and determining the meaning of these works based on the lyrics as well as the tone and visual elements selected by the producers, students recognize the importance of being mindful of every message that comes their way whether from the radio, a commercial, Netflix, or our next novel. Only then do we go on to ask the big questions of the classic texts we grapple with and see how they align with the ultimate truths of scripture: What is the nature of God? Of man? What has gone wrong with the world? How can we be saved? What is the purpose of our life? 

Some novels demonstrate accurately the nature of man, but fail to determine how we can be saved. Some show success in a particular lifestyle, but how this dead ends into unforeseen side effects. Every text has some truth in it, but their answers to life's big questions leads to a wide variety of implications which can lead to unfulfilling and hopeless ends without being able to ground this truth on scripture and what God our creator defines about us. Students must be able to analyze this for themselves. They will not be in my classroom forever. 

In psychology, analysis is even less subtle.  Every personality theory or clinical therapist asks the same questions we ask in literature - What is the nature of man? What has gone wrong? How do we be saved? What even are our goals in treatment? Behavioral psychologists seek to change behavior, cognitive therapists diagnose and control issues in patterns of thought, psychoanalysts look for hidden motives from past trauma and assume healing is through relationship only, humanists think the answer lies inside each one of us if we can just be heard and reach our potential, many therapists seek medicines to cure all ills as mental imbalances. Everyone asks the same questions, and many have elements of truth. After all, God created the body, and the mind and in a fallen world, there are a million ways things can go wrong. But ultimately, who knows man like the Creator of man Himself? If we can start from a foundation of knowing man's sin, value, and hope, the entire trajectory leads us to a new, Biblical analysis with eternal implications as we look at even the most severe mental illnesses and appreciate anew the characteristics God created us with.

Every photographer is an analyzer of the world as well. I love how differently the students look at the campus after touring it through the lens of a camera, considering different angles and elements of photography and composition as they capture it. Many photos can hit the mark of employing line, repetition, or the rule of thirds. But the greatest photographs tell stories. It is the emotion in the eyes, it is the grandeur of the scene, it is the scope of experiences shown that result in photography being the art form it is. Every image tells a story in a powerful way that the saying would have us believe is "worth a thousand words." 

As representatives of God in this world, should we not be versed in how to use this power of photography? Should we not be able to analyze the messages that come to us in every work of literature or film and present our own knowledge and hope to the world using these same mediums? Can we ignore the hurting and confused who seek help from psychotherapy professionals and cry out for meaning and hope? We cannot. And so my classes will continue to use the same priceless skills in every discipline; analysis is everywhere.  

Recent Posts

6/25/19 - By Samantha Cleaver
5/28/19 - By CCS Parent
5/4/19 - By Terry Kok
4/10/19 - By Shelli Cammenga, CCHS English Teacher
3/8/19 - By Jonathan Beutlich, CCS Teacher

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