School is over for the year, but that doesn’t mean learning, exploring, and teachable moments have to end for a child with the start of summer break. Summer is a great time for kids to relax, unwind, and play with their friends; at the same time, it’s also easy for kids to fall into an unproductive routine of TV and video games. With a little planning and creativity, you can keep kids active and learning this summer.
“What did you do over the summer vacation?” It’s the classic first day back to school writing assignment that teachers like to assign students. Have kids collect mementos and brochures from all the places they visit over the summer, from restaurants and ballparks to movie theaters and tourist attractions, and keep them in a journal. For each new place they visit, have them write a short caption about what they see, and then accompany it with a picture. If they don’t go on vacation, don’t worry… just call it a staycation scrapbook.
What summer is complete without theater in the park… or in this case, theater in the backyard? Take arts and crafts to the next level by having kids make their own puppet theater. Old school finger puppets are fun, but why not encourage kids to get more elaborate with their creations than simply drawing faces on their fingers with felt markers? Have kids read a play and inspire them to write their own script. While Shakespeare may be a bit much for them to grasp, this is the perfect time to teach kids that “the whole world is a stage.”
Nurture a little Darwin by having him or her help in the garden. Working on a garden teaches children about responsibility, while at the same time it helps build on the science skills they learned over the school year. Kids will not only learn about flora and fauna, but also about what plants and flowers need to grow and thrive. Gardening has its own built in reward system, too; sure, kids won’t receive a gold star for their hard work, but they will be able to eat the giant tomato they’ve nurtured since June.
Math at the Farmers’ Market
Have kids brush up on their math skills by shopping at local farmers’ markets. These fun, informal summer settings are good places for kids to get used to using money because the sums are typically small and the people are friendly. Continue the math lesson by using the freshly bought produce and having a child assist with the measurements that go into making dinner.
Museum Treasure Hunt
Rainy days are the worst in summer. Most children would rather stay at home and watch TV than go to a museum. Use a virtual tour to get kids excited about visiting a museum. Then turn the museum trip into a treasure hunt by having kids try to find the objects they saw on the Web tour in the museum.
With these fun summer learning ideas, a kid’s mind will soar like a kite. Take that Xbox!