It is no secret in my house that I am a BIG fan of the show Phineas and Ferb. These two brothers and their sister Candace redefine the term summer vacation in every episode. Complete with evil villain, Doctor Doofenschmirtz and secret agent hero, Perry the Platypus, the show knows how to keep its audience (it is one of the highest rated Disney cartoons in all of the age brackets). It is a witty, very well written commentary and fictional take on what kids can do in the summer.
(Not bad for a 7 year old)
The theme song to the show goes like this… “there’s 104 days of summer vacation and school comes along just to end it. The annual problem of our generation is finding a good way to spend it…” Who says that summer can’t be a time for fun and learning?
So, in the episode “Summer Belongs to You“, Phineas and Ferb build a plane called the Sunbeater 3000 “to make the longest day of the summer (the summer solstice) even longer by following the sun around the circumference of the earth”, stopping off in Tokyo, Paris and the Himalayas. Of course, their mom and dad are away for two days and their sister Candace, who is always trying to “bust” her brothers, is in charge of them. It is a fun watch
Summer has been a time to kick back and relax and give the mind a break, at least in schools that is the case. But, that seems to be a bit outdated. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good vacation like everyone else does, but does it have to come at the cost of learning loss? Time magazine featured cover article on “The Case Against Summer Vacation” in a July 2010 issue. What I take from the article, and from previously working at a year round school, is that summer can and should be a time for kids to relax, but also expand their horizons through new learning ventures. It does not have to be the structure and rigor of the traditional school year. Rather it can be a great time to learn about science through robotics or cooking. It can be a great time to learn about sports through camps. Or, it can be a great time to learn about language and culture through studying a foreign language and traveling to experience the culture. Start a book club with your classmates to complete your summer reading lists. The examples go on and on and on. The point being, summer is a GREAT time to learn. Be creative with it.
I know most of you who are reading this are enjoying your summer break. Keep it up, as you should. But, take a peek at Phineas and Ferb. The Flynn boys might give you an idea or two. To quote Phineas “nothing is impossible if you believe you can do it”. Building a Sunbeater 3000 may not be physically possible yet, but learning something new this summer is not a bad idea.