This year, we are home schooling through the summer. I hadn’t planned to, and I had even announced to the boys that we would be starting summer vacation right after our standardized testing the week of Memorial Day. But as that date drew nearer, I realized that Gresham still had two chapters left in his math book, Owen was just getting the hang of reading (so why stop now!), and Aidan did not make as much progress on writing this year as I would have liked. Owen is not done with his math either, and we only made it halfway through history for Gresham and Owen. Plus, our summer weather is crazy hot, we don’t have a neighborhood pool, and all the kids do better with a little structure anyway.

The biggest reason that we ended the year a little behind was that we wrote a LEGO book! I don’t regret this one bit, and it was an amazing experience for us as a family. The boys can’t wait to see our LEGO projects in print and share them with you all!

Since I had announced an “end” to our school year, I decided that we needed a little bit of motivation to keep going over the summer! So here’s my plan…

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Our Summer Learning Motivation Plan

We’re shooting for 3-4 school days each week. Each kid will do 3 school subjects per day. This still allows us plenty of time to have some summer fun.

Jonathan (age 4): preschool workbook from Costco, fine motor practice, alphabet games, counting games, etc.

Owen (age 7): Beyond the Code reading comprehension book (this is a great complement to the Explode the Code series!), math (Horizons 1st grade, almost done!), history – America the Beautiful (Notgrass), plus daily reading from real books

Gresham (age 9): math – Rod and Staff 4th grade and Life of Fred Jellybeans, history – America the Beautiful (Notgrass), writing using these writing prompts, reading (various chapter books)

I am also working through Exploring Creation with Zoology Vol. 2 with Gresham and Owen. Obviously, this is more than 3 subjects. I am just choosing three per day out of these options.

Aidan (age 12, almost 13): math – Life of Fred Pre-Algebra with Physics (he did pre-algebra this year so this is just extra), history – The Story of the World Vol. 3, writing – I don’t know what yet, reading – literature and some missionary biographies


To make it more tolerable, each child gets 1 ticket for each subject completed. I don’t normally give out prizes for doing the basic requirements of life, but when it’s summer and we’re still doing school, some fun treats make a huge difference!

I bought the tickets at Walmart in the office supply aisle. Here is my ticket store:

Our Summer Learning Motivation Plan!

I set the prices based on short-term and long-term gratification. The boys get 3 tickets most days, so that will buy a piece of gum for those who love instant gratification!

Our Summer Learning Motivation Plan

A pack of fruit snacks or a little baggie of M&M’s is 6 tickets.

A hot wheels car is 9 tickets.

The rest of the prizes are LEGO parts that I ordered from Brick Link. I have two Mr. Incredible characters from the Disney series and then a few other random mini figures. Those are 15. Then the LEGO animals or loose parts are 12 tickets. Owen is saving for the green cockpit, and he talked me into offering just one LEGO piece for 6 instead of getting two for 12.

How is it working?

We are finishing up our second week of summer school, and so far it has been a huge success! The boys have been asking if they can go ahead and do their math lesson or finish their reading assignments. Totally worth it.

My plan is to do summer school through the end of July. Then we’ll take two weeks totally off before starting the next school year.

Here are some more prize ideas that won’t add more clutter:

  • Water balloons
  • Beef jerky or other snacks
  • Rolls of tape (kids love having their own roll!)
  • A trip to get a snow cone or ice cream cone
  • A trip to the pool or spray park
  • Markers
  • Craft supplies
  • Small flashlight
  • Books
  • Personal sized fan
  • Water bottle


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  1. Rhonda Franz Jun 16, 2016

    Thanks for sharing your plan! I like those plastic containers. May I ask what kind those are?

    1. Sarah Jun 16, 2016

      That's a good question! I should add that to the post. The box is a GLIS box with lid ($3.99) from IKEA. We love these boxes for so many things!

  2. Erika Mccauley Jun 16, 2016

    Brilliant as always, thank you for sharing your truly inspired ideas with the rest of us moms looking for incentives to get through the summer. :)

  3. Becky Jun 17, 2016

    Love this idea! We are doing something similar, but I like yours better. :)

  4. Pamela Jun 17, 2016

    I love that you suggested prize ideas that didn't add clutter - because we all know that happens way too easily! Thanks for another great post. * And happy belated birthday! *


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