If you’ve been following our blog, you know we’re big proponents of extending learning opportunities beyond the classroom and into the home. So if you’re still looking for creative ways to keep your kids on task and off screens this summer, we’re offering up 14 additional ideas in this article. Let’s go!
#1. Break Out the Board Games
Game on! It’s widely recognized that board games can have a valuable educational component to them. Consider these examples: Monopoly (math, money management, strategy), Clue (deductive reasoning), and Trekking the National Parks (geography and history). Summer is a good time to dust off these tried and true games and introduce them to your kids.
#2. Outdoor Science Projects
Turn your backyard into an outdoor science lab this summer. From creating a soda geyser to building a solar oven for making s’mores to making a mini-microscope, there’s no shortage of science lessons to experience outside this summer.
#3. Create a Summer Memories Scrapbook
Scrapbooks tell stories. And placing memories onto tangible pages with brief descriptions of what’s occurring in photos allows children to tap into their storytelling and writing skills. Take advantage of the activities your child has taken part in over the summer, like vacations and family gatherings, and have them chronicle these life events.
#4. Go on a Field Trip
Visit a botanical garden, explore a working farm, check out a zoo or an aquarium (or two or three) before the kids go back to school. Field trips allow kids to learn through an experiential lens.
#5. Bring Out the Budding Composer in Your Child
Make sure summer learning isn’t limited to core academics. Growing your child’s exposure to the Arts is part of developing a well-rounded person. Call out their inner musician by challenging them to rewrite the lyrics to a favorite song or composing a “jingle” to promote a favorite movie, restaurant, sports team, or movie.
#6. Play Vocabulary Games
Children’s writing improves as their vocabulary grows because they have more tools in their verbal toolkit. From classics like Scattergories and Scrabble to age-appropriate vocabulary apps, kids will expand their lexicons without even realizing it.
#7. Grow Your Child’s Interest through Arts & Crafts Projects
Set Minecraft aside and take up some good ol’ fashion crafts this summer. Arts & crafts provide a great opportunity to nurture an existing interest or to open your child’s imagination to something new. They can learn about color theory by making candy, design scratch art in a flash, or create bike spin art. The possibilities are endless!
#8. Grow a Garden
Here’s a parent-approved reason for kids to get dirty — plant something in the garden. Ask your kids what they would like to grow and have them research its soil, sunlight, and watering needs. Once they’ve done their homework, take them to the nursery to get the plant(s) and begin their green thumb adventure. Kick this activity up a notch by having them keep a journal of their foray into gardening.
#9. Kids in the Kitchen
Your child doesn’t need to be a contestant on Food Network’s “Star Kids” to exercise some culinary creativity. Have them find an interesting recipe online or in one of your cookbooks and make it for the family: creating the shopping list, going to the grocery store, and preparing their food fare. For older children, throw some math into the cooking equation by having them double the recipe so they’ll have enough to share with friends or neighbors.
#10. Play Chess
Checkmate! Yes, chess is a board game. But as the grandfather of all board games (possibly dating back to the 7th century), it deserves a spot of its own on this list. According to Wendi Fischer, The Scholastic Director of America’s Foundation for Chess, “Chess trains your brain to think critically — to discover like a scientist, create like a technician, innovate like an engineer, and problem-solve like a mathematician.”
#11. Go Geocaching
Take the best of a scavenger hunt and combine it with “hide and seek” and you get geocaching. Participants hide weatherproof containers filled with meaningful tokens and trinkets for others to find through clues they post online. A GPS and a good sense of adventure are all that is needed for this outdoor excursion.
#12. Try the Tangram
Looking for a way to grow your child’s problem-solving and visual-spatial skills? This may be your answer. The Tangram, an ancient Chinese puzzle, uses seven flat polygons which can be combined in countless ways to make shapes and pattern blocks. Let the building begin!
Your child might not be particularly interested in writing a “story,” but they may be very intrigued by the prospect of being a “blogger.” Use technology to your advantage by positioning a writing exercise within the context of a blog post. Check out Fanschool, a free child-safe blogging platform. Encourage your child to post about topics of personal interest, such as gaming, baking, sports, or music.
#14. READ, READ, READ
Educators might contend that the single best learning activity a child can take part in during summer is to read. We won’t belabor the point (we’ve already done that in previous posts), other than to say … do whatever you can to engage your child in reading. Have you come across any summertime activities that have kept your kids’ learning going over the summer months? If so, please share them by leaving a comment below.