Here are some ideas based on grade-level material for the last days of summer vacation, or weekends through the year. The Bee invites teachers to post comments and additions below the story.
Students study history in terms of things changing over time; gain basic map and globe skills; separate factual literature from fiction.
SCHOOL WALK: This is the week to walk and talk around the empty campus and get your child excited about starting school. Point out the bathrooms, play area, cafeteria and the office.
ANY MUSEUM: Lots of things to point to showing how things used to be, talk about how things have changed over the years and ways they might be different years from now.
THE ZOO: The Fresno Chaffee Zoo (www.fresnochaffeezoo.com) has the advantage of lots of shade, but any zoo or aquarium gives wonderful opportunities for language development, talking about animals and life in jungles, oceans and deserts.
FIRST GRADEStudents learn about citizenship, voting, patriotic songs and symbols; find towns, states, nations, continents, oceans and compass points on a map; add and subtract; tell time; use money.
COMPASS WALK: Walk to the store noting compass directions. Talk about the weather and how it changes along the way. When you get there, have your child make a small purchase, selecting the right bills and coins. Walk back trying to reverse the compass path.
LIBRARY OUTINGS: Head to the public library and look in the children's section for a favorite author or topic. Look for your child's top interest -- cake making, airplanes, drawing -- in the grown-up section, looking for photos and graphics. Sign up your child for a library card. Have your child read easy, well-loved books to dolls, stuffed toys or family pets.
Students study family history; find mountains, major rivers on maps; learn about trade, food production and making laws; learn measuring; study lives of key individuals in history.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK: The history of Yosemite is full of great stories of individuals and of how laws kept the land as a park (www.nps.gov/yose). Track your trip on a map, pointing out the mountains, river and lakes. Check out the Indian Village by the visitors center and Pioneer Yosemite History Center. Bring along a measuring tape and check distances between anything handy.
FAMILY HEROES: Look back in genealogy (www.familysearch.org) or family scrapbooks and find people of note and war veterans from the child's history. Talk about how these people made a difference, how their everyday lives were different without computers or refrigerators. Trace where they lived on a map.
Students learn about American Indians, local waves of settlement; basic structure of government; multiplication and division; estimating and rounding.
McHENRY MANSION & MUSEUM: These Modesto landmarks on I street at 13th and 14th streets (www.mchenrymuseum.org) are chock full of local history and flavor of the times. Make the trip a scavenger hunt: Find something a lady would wear or use -- a hat, an iron -- something a farmer would use, and so on.
KNIGHTS FERRY: A covered bridge leads to this early settlement where once Dr. Knight did indeed provide ferry service. On the drive, estimate the cost of lunch or add up miles between major roads, rounding the distances.
Students study California history, its capital and regions; learn longitude and latitude; work with fractions, decimals and negative numbers.
MISSION SAN JUAN BAUTISTA: Located near Salinas, this California mission (www.oldmissionsjb.org) has exhibits showing mission life for workers and priests as well as an early graveyard. On the adjacent square there is a state park (www.parks.ca.gov) showing historic town life.
COLUMBIA STATE HISTORIC PARK: This Gold Rush town (www.columbiacalifornia.com) offers visitors a window into the past. Check for living history days and evening events. Plan your visit to allow a train ride out of Railtown 1897 State Historic Park outside of Jamestown (www.railtown1897.org).
STATE CAPITOL: The California State Capitol Museum (www.capitolmuseum.ca.gov) offers tours of the Capitol that bring legislation to life.
While in town, check out Sutter's Fort State Historic Park or take a virtual tour (this link.
Students learn early American history -- explorers by sea, colonies to the Revolution, western expansion, the Constitution and all the state capitals; percentages, powers and parallelograms.
SAN FRANCISCO -- So many great locations for every age, the city by the bay was key to West Coast exploration by the Russians at Fort Mason (www.fortmason.org) and the Spanish at the Presidio (www.nps.gov/prsf). The San Francisco Presidio Museum covers a wide swath of history. San Francisco Gold Rush sites can be seen on the Gold Rush Trail (www.goldrushtrail.org). Architectural showpieces, the California Academy of Sciences (www.calacademy.org) and de Young Fine Arts Museum (http://deyoung.famsf.org), are in Golden Gate Park. The Exploratorium is a hands-on science museum (www.exploratorium.edu). Chinese immigration is explored at the Chinese Historical Society of America headquarters in Chinatown (www.chsa.org). Or skip the parking hassles and check out the virtual tour (www.sfmuseum.org).
Students learn geography and ancient civilizations -- Egypt, Greece, India, China and Rome; statistics, probability and pi; earthquakes and the environment.
SAN JOSE: ROSICRUCIAN EGYPTIAN MUSEUM: This San Jose museum and small planetariam has authoritative exhibits on ancient Egypt, including an exhibit on mummies (www.egyptianmuseum.org). Greek culture is depicted in the Hellenic Heritage Museum (www.hhisj.org/museum.htm). The Tech Museum has lots to offer, including an earth sciences exhibit (www.thetech.org).
Source: California Department of Education Content Standards
On the Net: www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss